Seat arrangement -the fun way….

DSCN0094As a teacher, creating seating charts is always something difficult.  Seating charts are one of those things where there is no way to make everybody happy. In the past, whenever I created a seating chart I felt  like I was putting together a giant puzzle with too many pieces.

Therefore, a few years ago, I decided to change that, and make the monthly seat arrangement , more fun and meaningful….
The purpose of a seating chart is to group and move students so that they are in the best learning orchestration possible for that instructional time period.

What usually happens in most classes is that, students often don’t see the purpose behind their seats or read more into their assigned seat than is there.  It is important for students to understand that sometimes their seat won’t be the seat they would choose, but it will be a seat that they will be productive in and that his or her seat assignment will change again and again over the course of the school year.

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Of course, students need to be able to communicate with the teacher about their needs, when it comes to a seating chart, as well as listen to the teacher about the reasoning behind those seats. This is an important skill for students to develop as it will help them in future endeavors and realistically, seating charts are a part of their school experience the whole way through.

I personally ,assign seats and switch them every month, and rotate project  groups as well – anything to get students interacting with others outside their own social groups. Anyone with special needs is accommodated as well. It works great!

I tell them right from the beginning that I am going to move their seats around, and that they will work in teams, and that they will work with everyone at some point, and it’s going to be SUPER FAB. Then there’s some grumbling, but at least they know what to expect.

My primary reason is to ensure that the students have a chance to work with all of their peers, actually. I want to try to avoid cliques and make everyone feel welcome.

I also am a big fan of cooperative learning in general .

Also, there is good reason to randomize the groups again and again. This helps students experience different levels of group success – with most groups becoming more successful due to each student’s experiences.

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Activities for  my older students

Sharing here, some ideas I have found on  http://www.edweek.org/  , and have tried successfully!..

Each activity takes 10 to 15 minutes but there is some preparation. Before beginning, I label the tables and chairs in an orderly way and post the seating challenge prominently.Here are the ideas….

1: Greet each student at the door and make sure he or she is in the right classroom. Next, before he or she has a chance to sit down, direct the student to follow the posted instructions: “Sit in birthday order so that the person with the birthday closest to January 1 sits in Seat 1. The year you were born doesn’t matter. Don’t skip seats. When everyone is seated, the student in Seat 5 will raise his or her hand and report that the class is ready to begin.”

Observe the interactions: Look for organizers, active and passive participants, refusers and disrupters. Be mindful that some students would rather be invisible and that the activity is probably something they haven’t experienced before.

If anyone asks you what to do, redirect him or her to classmates and the posted instructions. Encourage students and remind them that you don’t know the answer.

When Seat 5 reports in, do a couple of spot checks, show them where your birthday lies (just for fun!), and begin your lesson. By the end of this activity, every student will have interacted with other students and many will have reported to the whole class in a safe, nonthreatening way. (Ok, Seat 5 is under some pressure.)

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 2: Ask the students to follow these instructions: “Line up in alphabetical order by the name you like to be called. Then sit with an equal number of students at Tables 1-4. Remaining students sit at Table 5. When all are seated, the last student raises his or her hand and reports that the class is ready.”

Adjusting to have equal numbers at each table produces a lot of interaction and some tension. Watch closely how students with different ideas negotiate. Don’t intervene with the answer, but mediate if necessary. Have students quickly report out their names. Treat alphabetizing mistakes kindly, of course.

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 3 is different. Meet each student at the door with a paper that says, “Read this card completely. Do not enter the room until you understand the instructions. You may talk about the instructions before you enter the room. When you understand the instructions, give the card back to your teacher, enter the room, and begin.” Here’s what the card says:

1) Complete this challenge in complete silence: Remain silent for the entire activity. Do not talk or whisper after you enter the room.

2) In the room, line up in order by height.

3) Then take your seats with the shortest person in Seat 1.

4) Do not skip seats.

5) When the class is seated, the student in Seat 12 raises his or her hand, and when called on reports that the class is ready.

Post the instructions in the room as well. Although the task is easy, the silent rule adds some stress, so observe which defense mechanisms students display. Note who is comfortable reading the cards and who avoids the task.

On activities 4 and 5 students sort themselves into groups and sub-groups that may be lopsided. The instructions demand more judgment and decision-making from the students.

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 4:  The instructions read: “Sort yourselves into two groups: sneaker wearers and non-sneaker wearers. Next, each group forms two subgroups: students with curly hair and those with straight hair. You have curly or straight hair if you think you do. Each sub-group finds enough chairs and sits in order from the person with the shortest hair to the person with the longest hair.”

A tree diagram showing the groups may help. Watch how they negotiate and decide where to sit.

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 5: The instructions read: “Form two groups—students who prefer to spend free time indoors and those who prefer to spend it outdoors. You may like both but choose just one. Within those groups, define your own subgroups based on the last thing you did when you spent free time the way you wanted to. Find a place to sit together and talk about your free time activity.”

Some extra fun activities I have tried with my very young learners are:

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I hand out coloured pieces of paper to each student as they enter the room. They then arrange themselves in groups according to the colours.

I hand out cards with half a word or sentence written on them and students look for their..other half to  change a seat with…

I hand out simple question cards to half the class and the answer cards to the other half. Students, walk around the classroom asking and answering questions , to find their match and change seats with them.

I also, whisper to each student’s ear a word or a number and ask him/her to remember it for a while. I make sure that, I whisper the same word to two different students. Then , I ask them to walk around the classroom and look for their partner…The student, with the same word. This is either the person they have to sit next to or the person they exchange seats with.

A favourite activity is, to have the class listen to some dance music and ask them to walk around until it stops…When it stops, they have to sit down in the nearest chair they find….It’s similar to the Musical Chairs game!

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I also, hand out papers with animal names on them. The students mill around making that animal noise or action until they find the “animals ” in their group. I used this when we were studying Animal Farm when we needed groups. Lots of fun and very funny. Most kids loved it.

These ideas do not necessarily involve a lot of cooperation by the students to arrange themselves but then I am forever telling kids that groups or partners are not a life time commitment. They last for about a month or even a bit longer, depending on the assignment or reason. Kids are generally pretty happy as they know this will change. The line of “this is not a life time commitment” must work well as I have heard students repeat it to each other and all seems to work well.

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All group arrangements take time but it is time well spent as we all have to learn to work with others. A class that learns to cooperate early in the year will learn and share more over the course of the year than one that is always fighting groups.

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My favourite attention getters…

Whole Brain Teaching posters, behind my desk in the classroom!

Whole Brain Teaching and attention getters posters, behind my desk in the classroom!

As teachers, we know the value of having good attention getters to calm a noisy classroom.  I have always wanted a comprehensive list of all of the most effective attention getters I have used , in one spot…

My most favourite attention getter, by far is : WBT- “Class Class Class”, they respond with “Yes, Yes, Yes”. In the exact same way the teacher said, whether a high or low voice, silly or whatever.  I say class they say yes. I say classity class class, they say yesity yes yes. All students  love it. I change the tone of my voice and they change the tone in theirs.

My class magic bell!

My class magic bell!

Whole Brain Teaching is based on brain based learning. The technique to consistently catch the attention of your class is simple. It is so simple, and effective that I kicked myself for not having thought of it myself years ago, and have lamented many times since the instructional time I lost for not having known this.

Simple, hunh? It is amazing how effective this approach is.

Whole Brain Teaching uses a very simple and effective approach. Whole Brain Teaching injects fun back into the classroom for both me  and my class.

One day I was trying to come up with something different from what they may have had in the past, and then I found this on line ! I say “Alright stop!” And the students say “collaborate and listen!” It’s perfect because they really do have to do those things, come together and listen. I love it!

Happy teachers=Happy students

Happy teachers=Happy students

I say Pop , kids say corn. I say Apple, kids say Sauce. I say hot, kids say dog. I say milk, kids say shake. You can do it with any word combo as long as kids know that when they say the word it means freeze and eyes on me.

I have also tried ..: If you can hear my voice, clap once.  If you can hear my voice, clap twice.  I start at a whisper and they are silent by 4 claps…best part is no yelling.

I put a little bell on my desk last year and it was magical! The kids love it –I just use it when I need their full attention or when I want them to know that time is up for some activity we do….

If you are in need of some great attention getters to quiet your classroom, this additional list below is just for you!  You can  save it for when you need them on the fly!

It can be found behind my desk in my classroom, along with the Whole Brain Teaching rules !

Me,saying " Class, class, class"!!

Me,saying ” Class, class, class”!!

 

Teacher                                     Students

NEVER ———————> GIVE UP!

 

WORK————————> HARD!

 

L-I-S—————————> T-E-N! LISTEN!

 

WHO LOVES YOU?———> YOU DO!

 

ARE YOU FOCUSED?——–>YES, I AM!

 

ALL SET————————–> YOU BET!

 

HOCUS POCUS—————> EVERYBODY FOCUS!

 

MACARONI AND CHEESE—————–> EVERYBODY FREEZE

 

3,  2,  1……—————————>( CLAP)!

 

1,2,3  EYES ON ME ———————–> 1,2 EYES ON YOU!

 

And the old-time-classic :

 

YAKETY YAK———> DON’T TALK BACK!

"Oh, class! Oh, yes!"

“Oh, class! Oh, yes!”

 

If you liked this post , be sure to share it with  your teacher colleagues struggling to get their students’ attention ,every day..! Because ,happy teachers=happy students!

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End-of-the-school-year fun activities!

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Some people might think that, an “End-of-the-Year event” may seem unimportant, however it is  VERY IMPORTANT cause,…it’s the end of the school year! The positive memories have an effect on the children’s attitude and last forever!…

This is a time to look back and reflect –as well as a time to think ahead. Additionally, we should be sure to recognize our  graduating students ,in some way!

The ideas below,come from many different sources ! One I can recall   is  http://www.kidactivities.net/

I have tried too many such activities in my teaching career, so far! The ones I am sharing here, are the ones I used  last school year, with huge success! And as I often say, ” It has worked in my class; it might work in your class, too”!

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END OF THE YEAR FUN IDEA for the little ones...

Two nice ideas for younger children

  1.  Hand each student a sheet of paper
  2.  Then have the children draw pictures and write words  of the things they would like to say “goodbye to” in your classroom.
  3.  It’s good “therapy” because we know how hard it can be to say goodbye to our familiar room and friends. When complete… bind it into a program book titled ‘GOODBYE ROOM’.

Grade —– (Or__________ ) HAS BEEN A BALL!

This is a fun and different way to have an autograph party as a remembrance of the time spent in class.

Beach balls are fairly inexpensive–order some from a novelty company-have children blow them up and then get autographs from each other on the balls!

For older students….

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BALLOON TOSS: GOALS FOR THE FUTURE

At your end-of-year lesson, give each child a slip of paper and invite him or her to write one goal for the future.

Have students slip the notes inside balloons and then inflate them. Later, have kids toss balloons (like graduation caps), keeping one to pop and share its (anonymously) written message aloud –with the rest of the group.

(Actually, work the last part out in a way that the majority of the group likes—read one message, several messages, or all or no messages)

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THANKS FOR THE COMPLIMENT (A nice way to end the school year!)

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Need: Paper, markers, tape

  1.  Everyone gets a piece of paper taped to their back. (Make sure their name is at the top of the paper.)
  2.  Each person is given a marker.
  3.  Each person in the group must walk around the room and write a compliment or positive remark about that person on their back….. NO PEEKING!
  4.  When everyone has written something positive on each others back, they return to their seat and read what was written.
  5.  With a smaller group, everyone exchanges papers without looking at their own. Each participant can take a turn at reading aloud from person’s list they have. . (Adjust for a larger group)

This is a great self-esteem booster! If some children still don’t know each other very well…they can write such things as: You have a great smile; You’re hair always looks nice; Great blue eyes; etc.

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AUTOGRAPH BOOK

At the end of the year have each child make an autograph book. They pass around their books and get everyone’s signatures and friendly notes for a summer keepsake.

Variation:You can ask them to decorate  their own summer postcards and ask all their classmates to write a personal comment and sign on them.

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One very favourite activity, I always do:

 TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS DURING THE YEAR and put together a slide show.

  1.   I  show this as PART OF A YEAR-END SCHOOL EVENT—but it would also be a wonderful “WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION to the new children we will have the next school year.
  2.  You could use it to show children and families some of the things you do-how they’re done–and what to expect! If you haven’t started, get your slides, videos, and activity scrapbooks going now!

Here’s the link to our last year’s slide show I have already posted about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vr9-iFULcMo[/embed]

 

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WRITE YOURSELF A LETTER

At the end of the school year, have students write themselves a letter. Tell them that no one but they will read this letter so they can say anything they want in it. However, part of that letter might include who their friends are, their current height and weight, favorite movies and music, and special things both good and bad that occurred during the year, summer plans…

Variation: Every year, i have  them write me letters, as well!

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On another sheet of paper or the back of that sheet ask students to write ten goals they would like to accomplish by this time next year (or sooner). Students seal this letter in an envelope, self-address it, and give it to you. In a year (or sooner) mail (or return in person) the letters  to the students.

I loved this idea the very moment my NLP mentor Bonnie Tsai, asked us to do something similar in the end of our summer course at Pilgrim’s, Canterbury,  Kent, three years ago!

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A LETTER TO PARENTS AT THE END OF THE YEAR…

I always send letters to the parents in the end of each school year, both in Greek and in English.

This is the letter in English I sent them last school year.

“Dear Parents,

I give you back your child ~ the same child you confidently entrusted to my care last fall. I give him/her back pounds heavier, inches taller, months wiser, more responsible, and more mature then he was then.

Although he would have attained his growth in spite of me, it has been my pleasure and privilege to watch his personality unfold day by day and marvel at this splendid miracle of development.

Ten years from now if we met on the street, we’ll feel the bond of understanding once more, this bond we feel today.

We have lived, laughed, played, studied, learned, and enriched our lives together this year. I wish it could go on indefinitely, but give him/back I must. Take care of him, (or her) for he (she) is precious. I’ll always be interested in your child and his destiny, wherever he goes, whatever he does, whoever he becomes.”

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MURAL OF MEMORIES

On a nice day–take this activity outside!

Use paints, markers or colored chalk and invite children to create a mural illustrating the many wonderful things your group did, saw, and learned this year. It will be a great “advertisement” for next year’s program or class. (Don’t forget to hang it up when the new school year starts!) I personally, decided to do something alternative with it last school year: I used it to wrap up our class post box!!

As an extension, you can have your group write about the favorite memories they drew.

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END OF THE YEAR BULLETIN BOARD AUTOGRAPHS

BONUS! The board is up and ready to go during the first week of school!

  • Remove what is currently on your Board such as art projects, etc. LEAVE UP Bulletin Board Backgrounds and Borders.
  • During the week BEFORE the last week of school, ask a talented student artist (or do this yourself!) to block letter the words: “HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!” on your bulletin board background paper.
  • Have several children color in the letters…
  • As the days get closer to the end, have youth autograph and write messages on the bulletin board paper.
  • With younger students, ask them to write words and draw pictures of what they have enjoyed the most during the school year!
  • Leave their NAMES AND MESSAGES up for everyone to appreciate.
  • When you return for the new school year you’ll be starting off with one area already decorated with POSSITIVE MESSAGES!
  • No bulletin board area? Get a long piece of butcher roll-paper and do the same…(Actually, this is what I did..)
  • The kids will like reading what they and others left a couple months back!

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This activity is similar to this one…

I REMEMBER WHEN…

Put up the caption in big letters on your bulletin board or butcher paper taped to the wall— and then have children “decorate” it by writing things that they enjoyed doing in your program the past year!

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A SUMMER LAPBOOK

I just love lapbooks! You can read about my first lapbooks in this previous post:

https://aphrogranger.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/our-first-lapbook/

Lapbooks are made of file folders that are folded into a shutter flap so it opens up. Inside you have mini booklets that have a question or theme and the answers are inside. There are a variety of ways a booklet can be folded to demonstrate a topic.

They are really fun and my visual learners love lapbooks since we were introduced to them last year.

There are loads of topics that you can cover in your summer lapbook. I find that because I want to cover a broad topic, it’s nice to take bits and pieces from different lapbooks or it may be easier to create your own.

If you have never completed a lapbook, I suggest doing a free one yourself , to see how you like it.

Make a list of what you would like to cover and teach. Ask your children what they would like to learn. This will get them more involved and excited about their project as well.

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Last but not least: THE-END-OF-THE-SCHOOL-YEAR (graduating students) SHOW

I love staging mini-musicals at the end of each school year!

School Musicals

Enthusiastic audience!!

Enthusiastic audience!!

School musicals and music TV show parodies, offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions. It has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more. School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

Taking part in a school musical or Tv parody  production, has many benefits for children – increased self-esteem, the development of their dramatic and musical talents, and the opportunity to learn about working together as part of a team.

I find ideas in our library English Readers or in different  books or sites such as

http://www.childrenstheatreplays.com/schoolplays.htm

Here are some examples of what we have staged during the last few years!

Starting with this year’s TV talent show parody “The Voice”!

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Our coaches and show presenters

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My students seem to remember these end-of-the-year shows, for..ever!

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Dancing, singing, improvisation ….all their talents in action!!

"The Wizard of Oz":School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions

“The Wizard of Oz”:School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions

" Alice in Wonderland":School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

” Alice in Wonderland”:School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

" The Wizard of Oz": A School musical, has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more.

” The Wizard of Oz”: A School musical, has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more.

Our sixth graders musical every year, is a huge success! Both the kids and their parents are looking so much forward to it!

Our sixth graders musical every year, is a huge success! Both the kids and their parents are looking so much forward to it!

 

"Your face sounds familiar- A concert": Music, is an essential part in musical performances! It helps my students reveal their inner talents!

“Your face sounds familiar- A concert”: Music, is an essential part in musical performances! It helps my students reveal their inner talents!

 

" Your face sounds familiar-A concert": The FUN element of ELT music shows, is is obvious in this photo!!

” Your face sounds familiar-A concert”: The FUN element of ELT music shows, is is obvious in this photo!!

 

" A Eurovision song contest parody": Here's an Improvisation end-of-the-school year concert which we all just LOVED! In the photo, Agathonas Iakovides and Coza Mostra in...Eurovision 2013!!

” A Eurovision song contest parody”: Here’s an Improvisation end-of-the-school year concert which we all just LOVED! In the photo, Agathonas Iakovides and Coza Mostra in…Eurovision 2013!!

ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!

LET’S RECHARGE OUR BATTERIES AND GET READY FOR ANOTHER AMAZING SCHOOL YEAR!!

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Building self-esteem and rapport on day one -part 2

Self-esteem matters! We’ve long known that when students feel good about themselves, they are much more likely to become better achievers in the classroom.

Rapport , on the other hand, provides the base from which learning can take place. The rapport between a teacher and their students as well as among the students,  plays a very important role in determining if the class will be successful and enjoyable. Students are often very hesitant to speak out in class for a variety of reasons. Questions go unasked and unanswered… students remain silent because they are afraid to lose their self- esteem by being put down in front of their classmates and peers.

“It is important for students not only to realize their own uniqueness but also feel accepted by their peers” (Reasoner, 1992, p. 46).

“Studies indicate that children who lack attention or feedback are apt to have poorer self- concepts than those who receive either positive or negative feedback on a regular basis” (Reasoner, 1992, pp. 4-5).

Task 1

Back to school

WELCOME  STUDENTS WITH POSITIVE THINKING POSTERS AND DISPLAYS

 

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Our classroom door: a great way of boosting self esteem and positive attitudes in any classroom – and it livens up a dull door!

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“Be” bulletin board – great way to encourage the character traits we wish to see in our students!I think this is really what we should be able to do: teach kids that don’t really know how to treat others what we expect from them.

 

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This is a great board and does mirror my philosophy. I love my students and believe in them, but I will push them to give me their all, too.

Task 2

A PICTURE OF ME THROUGH MY PARTNER’S EYES

I ask my students to work in pairs, facing each other. They are asked to draw their partner’s portrait ,the way THEY  see him/her. As soon as they finish, they show each other their drawings and both  comment on them, describing their partner’s  facial or body characteristics in the picture   at the same time. During the next step, I ask them to exchange pictures and start writing words that describe  their personalities, around the picture frame. I usually brainstorm relevant  vocabulary before this activity, or use my “BE” bulletin board. (see photo  above) Finally, I ask their partners to ADD 2-3 more words  , from their own point of view. All pictures are displayed on the class bulletin board.

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Rapport activity: make your partner’s portrait the way you see him/her , add adjectives which you think describe their character and personality !

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Students work in pairs for this activity. They don’t show their partner their drawing until it’s done.

Task 3

HAPPY TUNNEL

I ask the children to stand facing each other in two lines and raise their arms high,with the tips of their fingers touching, to make the Happy Tunnel! I choose a child to go through the happy tunnel.I ask the class to think of a positive thing to say to the child who is going to go through the tunnel, eg I like you/You’re great/You’re nice/You’re good at…

The Happy Tunnel: I repeat the activity once or twice over several lessons, in order for everyone to have a turn.

The Happy Tunnel: I repeat the activity once or twice over several lessons, in order for everyone to have a turn.

I ask the child to walk slowly through the tunnel. The rest of the class whisper or say their sentences.The child then comes out of the tunnel with a big smile!! If time is not enough for everyone to have a turn  , I repeat the activity once or twice over several lessons.

This special activity ,which I just love, makes students feel good about themselves. It also helps them to realize how easy it is to make other people feel good too, thereby creating a positive atmosphere for learning. We  should brainstorm positive adjectives to describe people, before this activity.

 

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Happiness is on the way!….

 

More  adjectives  students could  use to describe the… protagonists: “positive, quick, friendly, unique, good- humoured, sweet, intelligent, peaceful, kind, enthusiastic, funny, witty, brave, calm, responsible, polite, angelic.”

In my class, his moment resulted to be a very special one. Some students expressed how moved they felt and they thanked  their friends for what they have shared.

This activity helped to honour their uniqueness, it focused on their good qualities contributing to develop a positive self- image.

Task 4

TEACHER AND STUDENTS WRITE TO EACH OTHER

I usually do this activity as soon as we come  back to school. But, it’s nice to keep this letters exchange going  , both between the teacher and the students and among the students, throughout the school year! In my classroom, there is a letter box we use to do so…We open it ,every Friday, to read our  mail!!

I give children the opportunity to tell me a few  things they like about themselves.  I prompt them to state things they can do well, things they feel good about. I am always  surprised at how many children suffering with low self-esteem have difficulty with this task – I usually ,need to provide prompts.

I always make sure that, in my reply letter I help  them build  self-esteem through praise and affirmations.

 

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Get to know your students by having them write you a letter.

Build your students'self-esteem through praise and affirmations

Build your students’self-esteem through praise and affirmations

Task 5

ME IN A BAG

I bring a sack with a running shoe, a bread pan, a piece of stained glass, something of my daughter’s etc .I group students and dump a few things on each table.Then, I give them a few minutes to say what they think each item says about me !I invite them to bring their own sack on the following day and I am  always surprised of how many kids  actually, bring one!  It is fun to see how excited the kids get when they discover that a classmate has something in common with them. They are so proud to talk about their special talents and interests, in front of their classmates! When it is my kids’ turn to let their classmates guess about the items in their bags, they share so many personal stories, too!  This activity, definitely boosts their self-esteem!

 

During the next lesson, students bring their own bags and let their classmates guess about the items in it!

Me in a bag activity, day 2: Students bring their own bags and let their classmates guess about the items in it which have to about their special talents and interests or their life in general!

 

Task 6

A BALL OF YARN

I bring a ball of yarn in class. Then, I ask the students to say their name and an interesting fact about themselves. Holding the end, they toss the ball to another student. That student will say their name and an intersting fact or what makes them unique! By the time everyone has spoken , there will be a large web of yarn which reminds the students of the bond we share with each other!

 

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I am special because….

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This web, could be displayed on the bulletin board with thump tacks, later!

 

I’d say that, these activities have been of utmost important in helping each student feel unique in front of his/her classmates and to develop group bonds. Students were able to understand what the other was feeling.

Quoting White (1997), “For a short time the academic curriculum is set aside and affective education, i.e. education of the emotions, is dealt with in a structured way.” “When harmony reigns, learning flourishes”.

Self-esteem is needed life-long and we need to remember the important role we play to enhance or damage a child’s self-esteem.

This is the book you can find the "Happy Tunnel" activity, among many more really interesting ones! Highly recommended!

This is the book you can find the “Happy Tunnel” activity, among many more really interesting ones! Highly recommended!

 

 

 

The “fun factor”

the fun factor poster!“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou.

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Do we make our students (although this could be applied to anyone in our  life) feel:

  • Inspired?
  • Motivated?
  • Supported?
  • Welcome?
  • Empowered?
  • Valued?
  • Loved?
  • Responsible?
  • Positive?
  • Happy?
School Bazaar fun!

School Bazaar fun!

As teachers ,we are not selected or trained to be comedians or entertainers. However, we know that a positive climate for learning, and enjoyment, is correlated with retention of information and putting knowledge to work in everyday situations (including tests).

 “Humor builds a learning relationship through the joyful confluence of head and heart. Humor reduces stress and tension in the classroom, improves retention of information, and promotes creative understanding.

Drama activities are fun!

Drama activities are fun!

But most of all, it brings a sense of pleasure and appreciation and creates a common, positive emotional experience that the students share with each other and the teacher.” ( Ed Dunkelblau)

Beyond the fun factor, humor can be an effective way to engage students and activate learning.

I use humor to defuse tension.

To do gentle discipline.

Games fun!

Games fun!

 

I  also play lots of  language games to engage my students in fun activities!

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l engage students. We  need to use differintiated learning styles to appeal to the kinesthetic,visual, and audio learners.The lesson plan should involve at least three to four activities,and are moi (motivating and interesting). Tap into students talents, and challenge them to use critical thinking.Some students I found lack certain skills in using critical thinking, and it is good to help them thinking critically.Have students make things,dress for certain occasions, sing, play trivia games,create rap songs, and poems.Debates are great.

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One more thing to consider:  if we can’t show enthusiasm for what we are teaching how can we expect our students to be anything but bored.

Students love to have fun, if you ask a student what they like the most about school I would say that 90% of the time the response you will get is that they like recess  and PE. Why do you think that is the reason, it is because they have fun. So after observing that after many years of teaching I realized that I need to make learning fun so that my students will want to learn. If learning is not fun many of the students will shut down and not try.

I know when you think of fun you think of totally uncontrolled behaviour and that all you do is party. That is wrong, when I talk about making learning fun I am talking about using creative, fun activities when you teach a certain subject to grab the student’s attention.

Do not be afraid to try creative ideas to make learning fun. So many teachers do not know how to teach outside the box of the curriculum. Well, fellow teachers the curriculum is boring and I suggest that you use it as a guide but do not be married to it. Step outside the box and be creative and have fun teaching the subject area to your students. Students need to see an energetic teacher that loves what she does and knows how to make the subject exciting for her students.

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I do want to suggest however,  that when you do fun activities with your class you need to set boundaries for the students on behavior.

 Some more food for thought now… One more reason I like using games to teach language is the fact that , it is extremely important for us to realize, as teachers, that we would not be able to stay seated and remain quiet for an extended period of time.  Think how many times we are in conferences and we will often talk to our table mates because of boredom.  Isn’t that what many of our students are doing.  I am trying to figure out a way to get my students up and moving them around more in the classroom.  I know that this may make my classroom a bit more noisy but if it they are more engaged and therefore learning more it is going to be better for them and therefore better for me in the long run.
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 We should engage our  students.  That does not mean being  up and folding, cutting, and pasting.  That means do something that they relate to.  Show them how what they are learning applies to real life situations.  Consider where they come from and what their exposure level is.  Do not assume anything!  Bottom line….meet them where they are at and take them farther!

 Children learn best when they are doing hands-on-activities that are fun and interesting. They will remember the concept when it is shown in a creative way.

  I have found that having a positive relationship with my students, being interested in them as people, sharing a sense of humour and fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect means that we can ‘tough out’ some of the topics which are less interesting. I always strive to be enthusiastic and passionate about my subject, but I tell my classes that our priority is education not entertainment.
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Also, our classroom seating arrangements plays a role, since we would like everyone to be involved. Group work seemed more effective to me, once instructions and objectives are cleared,students’ tend to work and interact much better than individually,teachers must be constantly be engaged with the class. “Notify your face “when students are bored! Ask yourself, “Am I passionate about what I’m doing”?
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Our students, should be learning that learning is fun from a very early age…. Growing older, they should be learning that expanding one’s horizons is fun, that learning you were wrong about something is not so painful, and that taking an educational risk is worth doing. They should be learning that school is a good place to do these things. The children of today dread going back to school in September, dread exams, dread receiving their grades, and are generally fearful. No wonder school is stressful. But there is no reason children cannot have intellectual fun, cannot be excited by ideas, and cannot be challenged to acquire new knowledge. Natural learning is a basically enjoyable thing to do. Two-year-olds love to learn. Many adults love to learn. Only school-age children associate learning with fear of failure. We must get the fear of failure out of the school system. Cramming for an exam or trying to please a teacher ought not to be the goal of those seeking an education. If we fail to understand this in a profound way, there will be no helping our schools or our children.

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Fun means engagement, doing and learning what has meaning and purpose, and it means being challenged. Embracing this belief should have a profound effect on what and how we teach.

Whole brain teaching activities that rock !

I first came across Whole Brain Teaching, on line, reading about it and watching videos on Youtube! Later, I decided to apply it in my classes  and ever since, it has proved to be  a valuable teaching tool in my class!

Whole brain teaching is a new “radical” idea to some, however it is nothing more than tried and true teaching practices, combined into a new approach.  Whole brain teaching combines direct instruction,  sharing and immediate feedback to become a new style of teaching.  Whole brain teaching surmounts to several  steps that a teacher incorporates into their everyday classroom.   I believe that because this method can be adapted to any age level, any group of students in any place, this practice may be one of the best, best practices.

Whole Brain Teaching posters, behind my desk in the classroom!

Whole Brain Teaching posters, behind my desk in the classroom!

Here today, I’d like to share with you my most favourite WBT teaching practices, that have proved to be valuable in my class and are highly recommended to all teachers!

Step 1: Class-Yes
The teacher of a whole brain classroom (WBC) uses this attention getter before beginning every class.  The teacher begins class by saying “class” any way he/she likes, and in turn the class is responsible for mimicking the teachers voice by responding yes.  Therefore, if the teacher says, “class, class, class, classy class!” The class must respond: “yes, yes, yes, yessy, yes!”  My students LOVE this attention getter! They always respond to it and I never need to raise my voice anymore in class!

Step 2: Teach-OK
I use this teaching practice, mainly when I teach grammar…..It always works miracles!! You should all try it and see for yourselves! This is the informative part of the lesson.  Before beginning the teacher must divide the class into two groups, 1’s and 2’s the teacher in each pair will rotate each time.  Then the teacher begins to teach small sections of information, while incorporating gestures, songs, movements and chants.  When the teacher has finished a small portion of information he/she says to the class “Teach” and the class responds “OK!”  In turn the students turn to teach each other, mimicking the “lesson” taught by the teacher.  During this time the teacher observes the students’ comprehension, if the teacher is not convinced the students understand the lesson, repeat this process.Otherwise, move to “class-yes” and begin another short lesson.

WBT Teach.

WBT Teach.

Step 3: Hands and Eyes
This step is used at any point during the lesson when you want students to pay “extra attention” to what you are saying/doing.  To begin this process the teacher says, “Hands and Eyes!,” and the students respond by mimicking the words and movements of the teacher. Perfect!!

Step 4 :Mirror
I personally  use Mirror, mainly when I teach grammar rules!Similar to “Hands and Eyes,” mirror allows the teacher to gain control of the classroom as well as have students mimic the motions and speech of the teacher.  This is the main part of the lesson where teachers are expected to contribute their own “silliness” and movements into the lesson.  Teachers will incorporate their own gestures, songs or chants in this portion of the lesson and the students are expected to “mirror” the teacher after the teacher says “Teach” and the class responds “OK.”

WBT  mirror

WBT mirror

Step 5: Switch!
This step is to be used with the “Teach-OK” step, while students are teaching it is imperative that the same student not teacher every time. Therefore, in order to get every student involved in the lesson, the teacher will direct the students to “Switch!,” the students will respond by saying “switch” and the “teacher” of the group will rotate.

 I admit that the idea of combining classroom management and active teaching/learning has me very intrigued.  I feel that beginning this practice in any classroom would be very easy.  The students would hopefully be very willing to try the techniques since the teaching centers somewhat around an overarching game. 

  Here, I should also  remind you of the classroom rules I wrote about in another post a few months ago….https://aphrogranger.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/class-rules/

 Classroom Rules

Before beginning the actual “informative” part of each lesson, the teacher goes over the five classroom rules with the entire class. This is to ensure that everyone understands the rules, but it will also help the teacher in the end, if a student is not following rules.  The rules and gestures are as follow:

  • 1-Follow directions quickly! (Make your hand shoot forward like a fish)
  • 2-Raise your hand for permission to speak (raise hand, bring down to head and make a talking motion).
  • 3-Raise your hand to leave your seat (raise hand, make a walking motion with fingers).
  • 4-Make smart choices! (tap one finger to your temple as you say each word).
  • 5-Keep your dear teacher happy! (hold up each thumb and dex finger out like an “L” framing your face; bob your head back and forth with each word and smile really big!)

To know more about Whole Brain Teaching, you could visit   http://www.wholebrainteaching.com

Brain gym-WBT  warming up: the lion's roar

Brain gym-WBT warming up: the lion’s roar

What to do with early test finishers….

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Most teachers recognise the need to give early  finishers something to do – something to keep them from being bored; something that will keep them from disrupting or distracting the rest of the class;  What makes an ideal activity for fast finishers, especially when this happens  during a test??

Generally speaking, when it comes to early finishers in class , I usually ask them to do what most teachers usually ask students to do:

1. Read
2. Sketch
3. Study
4. Unfinished work
5. Homework
6. Research Projects
7. Vocabulary Detective (search out cool words in the dictionary, fill out form and have the option of sharing with a friend)
8. Clean your desk- organise your portfolio
9. Invent a game
10. Write a story/letter etc

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BUT, when it comes to early finishers during a test…well, that’s another story!

I have an “I’m ALL done shelf” set up in my class room. It’s a small book shelf (two shelves) that is stocked with things to do after they finish their test. There are books (in a basket), Coloring pages, souvenirs from London, magazines, etc

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This shelf is found at our  ” English corner”,  which  basically consists of a space in the corner of the classroom with the appropriate materials placed on a shelf , within easy reach of pupils at any stage of the class. Games and books are arranged so they are clearly visible, each having their own identifiable place so that pupils know where to find them and put them back. More are added during the year to motivate pupils with new resources. If you have your own English classroom like I do , English corners are very easy to set up because all you need are the materials and the space.

mosaic realia

If not, maybe you could come to an arrangement with the class teachers to create a similar space in the children’s own classrooms.This is what I used to do in the past….This need not imply extra work on your part, as there will be enough materials to go round all the classrooms in the year group; books and activities can be swapped around at the beginning of each term, providing pupils with regular new resources. Many materials will be flexible and usable in different contexts. For example, a set of dominoes designed for learning colours will be used mainly with our Year 1 pupils, but we may also find them useful if we have a student with learning difficulties in Year 3.

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I always make sure that I buy lots of  souvenirs from all my trips in english speaking countries which I add to my class collection and share with ther students!  Our  activity corner also contains materials such as postcards,  memory games, puzzles, motivating worksheets , matching games, brick games  and board games.

Students should understand the importance of working quietly, so as not to disturb the rest of the class that is busy with another activity or a test.

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This may not happen overnight, as this way of working is likely to be new to them and they will need time to adjust.But once they’ve experienced and appreciated the benefits of it, you should see a marked improvement. Last but not least, never underestimate the importance of having your students listen to classical music during tests! My students find it really relaxing and have come to appreciate it more over the years , even the ones who have never listened to classical music before!!

mosaic music

 

The benefits of team work in the classroom

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My classroom and any classroom, dosen’t have to be a solo learning adventure…..it can also be a collaborative learning environment!

I always include many teamwork exercises in my weekly curriculum, to mix my lesson plan up a bit!
These group activities can be beneficial on a personal, group and class-wide level.
Our  PROJECTS depend a lot on teamwork, too! Teamwork,
 has been neglected in greek schools, where individualism prevails!
These are what I think, teamwork benefits are:
On Social Skills
When students form a group, social skills kick into action. A team of students must actively listen to each other, articulate ideas and use genuinely constructive criticism to be effective. Kids must learn to work together and cooperate. This is an opportunity to make friends and talk with others — networking can start in the classroom. This is a chance for the kids to expand their vocabulary, work on patience and learn how to take turns. Conflict resolution may also become part of the learning equation.
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On a Personal Level

Each student can benefit on a personal level from teamwork. She can feel like a valued part of the group as she contributes to the project and shares her ideas, which can build confidence and self-esteem. The student will be exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking, which can expand her personal view on the subject. Teamwork activities can be the time for each student to shine and show others her skills and talents.

Learning Together

As you watch the teams work toward their goal, the educational benefits of teamwork becomes clear. As the team works, they can all offer ideas and come to conclusions together. Students not only learn by working through the team project, they also learn by explaining their thought processes and reasoning to others. Teamwork also helps foster problem-solving skills, reasoning skills and group brainstorming. The students will learn to use critical thinking and evaluation skills as a group. An effective team will evenly distribute the responsibilities, blast through the material and cover more ground than if they did the homework or project individually.

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The Class Environment

Days can get long and dull when you have a group of kids that are disconnected and staring at the walls. Group work is a welcomed change in the normal routine and gets the kids out of their seats. Schoolwork becomes more enjoyable and rewarding when you incorporate teamwork exercises. Just make sure that you define some teamwork boundaries before you let the kids loose. The kids need to know what they should be achieving, how to tell when they have accomplished their task and how long they have for this activity, otherwise you’ll just have clusters of talking students not staying on task.

Last but not least: I always have a teams seating  arrangement in the classroom.Students ,sit and work in groups !

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Goal setting and Life Skills for kids

mos14ls4I spend about a week every September to teach my students LIFE SKILLS and GOAL setting!

I strongly believe that, our gift is to teach our children how to take more responsibility for their education.It is essential that we give them the tools they need to succeed today, tomorrow and for the rest of their lives!How can we get kids to “own” their education?

If we show them how to set and acheive goals and how to use these principles in the classroom ,we will give them important life skills tools that they will use for a lifetime!

I teach my 6th graders  the life skills below and then, a discussion follows….

1.No vision= no direction. I have them write down what they want to accomplish during the school year. I ask them to start their sentences with ” I want to…” or ” I will…”.  I sometimes, have the kids write a letter to themselves  about what they think they will be doing during the school year, what their expectations are, who their closest friends would be,  how I can best help them during the year, etc…Later, I ask them to put all these letters  in a TIME CAPSULE which is actually a Pringles  can, and reopen it in June…one week before school closes and talk about how many of our goals have been accomplished ! We also talk about why, we have failed to accomplish the rest of them.

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2.Don’t find a fault=Find a solution!

3.Show them how these 6 words can hold them back from being successful:no, can’t, won’t, never, maybe, if.

4.Coach the students that: to Earn more they will have to Learn more, Think more, and Do more!

5.Stress the  ” I’ll make it happen” words: yes, I can, I will.

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6.Demonstrate to them the power of eliminating Excuses!

7.Show them tangibles examples of how to set and acheive goals.Give them examples for how to use Goal setting in the classroom.

8.Help them to develop a habit to ask themselves each day:” Did I give my best effort to today’s activities”?

9.Demonstrate the importance of helping others.

10.FOCUS: Vision+Goals+Attitude+Action

It’s simply unbelievable, how my students appreciate this kind of teaching! They feel grateful and I know, because of the letters they write me from time to time…we have a letters box in the classroom which I am writing to you about, in a future post!

 

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Oh, Class!….Oh, Yes…!

I have to admit, I have become a http://www.wholebrainteaching.com addict! I find it REALLY effective in my classes! It has helped me with class management issues more that I have ever expected! One of the first steps a teacher can take , even before the introduction of the 5 class rules, is the attention getter ” Class! Yes!”

I can share the way I have been using it in my class,

Whole Brain Teaching posters, behind my desk in the classroom!

Whole Brain Teaching posters, behind my desk in the classroom!

How many times have you started class, called for your class to get quiet, only to have a few kids comply, and several others continue chatting, apparently oblivious to your request? You ask for their attention again, a bit louder. At this point you can feel your blood pressure rising, right? After all by this time they should know how to follow procedures. They have certainly been trained in procedures similar to yours for years by the time they get to you … well, depending on what age your students are.

Then why don’t they listen? Why don’t you already have their attention? You have teaching to do. They doggedly hang onto the conversations they are in, even as your voice rises …

Now you are headed into a bad mood and the darned class is only just beginning. To top it off, some of your lovely moppets are acting as though giving you their attention is a gigantic imposition. Now both you and your students are in a hostile mood, and no one has learned anything yet.

Does any of this sound familiar? If you would like to change, then read on.

The technique to consistently catch the attention of your class is simple. It is so simple, and effective that I kicked myself for not having thought of it myself years ago, and have lamented many times since the instructional time I lost for not having known this.

To get my classes’ attention I simply say ‘Class!’ and then they reply ‘Yes!’. Next is the catch, the hook that makes this fun, and gets them invested in it in a way that has them looking at me and grinning rather than continuing their conversations.

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When I say ‘Class!’ and they say ‘Yes!’ they have to say it the way I said it. If I say ‘Classity-class-class!’ they have to say ‘Yessity-yes-yes!’. If I say it loudly, they have to respond loudly. If I whisper, they respond in a whisper. They have to match my tone and intensity.

Simple, hunh? It is amazing how effective this approach is. I used to be the teacher I described above. With middle schoolers in particular it was almost impossible to get their attention. Too often, I would find myself frustrated by my students’ behavior.

Whole Brain Teaching uses a very simple and effective approach to overcome this resistance. Whole Brain Teaching injects fun back into the classroom for both you and your class.

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Why is the Class-Yes, in terms of brain structure, so effective?  The neo-cortex, the part of your brain behind your forehead, controls, among other things, decision making.  Think of the neo-cortex as an executive, organizing other brain areas for complex tasks.  When the teacher says, “Class!” and students respond “Yes!,” you have, in effect focused your students’ neo-cortices on what you’re going to say next.  In other words, their brain’s executives are ready to take directions from your brain’s executive.  That’s wonderful!  Your neo-cortex is the CEO of all your kids’ neo-cortices.  We call that, Teaching Heaven.

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