Team work ,matters!

The ability to work together with others as part of a team is not simply a skill needed at school, it is a vital skill used in all areas of life. For me, school is, an excellent time to cultivate the teamwork skills, children will then draw from, throughout their life.

 

For a team to work together effectively, it takes all members of the team to respect each other’s abilities and opinions. Teamwork is a highly social activity and involves much interaction and exchanging of ideas and actions. We all understand that, being part of a team enables a child to move from more intrapersonal (individual) ways of thinking to interpersonal (communicating with others). It will help students in all areas of their learning, and help them to feel part of a community, too.

The biggest problem in my country’s educational system is that, teamwork is not encouraged at schools- at least, not as much as it should be….

Working as part of a team will strengthen students’ social and emotional skills, help develop their communication skills, and can improve confidence.

Team games, are also important…From experience, the best way to teach children English is to not only get them physically involved within the lesson, but also to create the illusion that they are simply playing games. And rather than focus on individual development, it is also a very good idea to promote class interaction as far as possible.

Even very young learners can become independent in their learning and guided early on they will be more likely to grow into autonomous and successful language learners.

Creative use of language makes communication possible even when students may not know the perfect grammar for what they are trying to say.Nothing is more true to life than that.

When students work in groups, they have to work together to accomplish a goal. Even when the use of grammar is weak in these collaborations, communication happens, and that will give your students an advantage, when they have to face communication in the English speaking world.

Encouragement in class,is crucial ! One way encouragement comes, is when lower level students see the accomplishments of higher level students.Less accomplished students will become better speakers just by talking to others more advanced than them, without help and without pressure….When they work in groups, I see that students help each other learn.

One of the most important things for me, as far as group work is concerned, is speaking!

Putting our students in groups, gets them speaking up and practicing the language that they are trying to learn. And, speaking, is not top priority in the Greek language class…. not even in the private Greek Language schools-“Frodisteria”…

Students who are kinesthetic learners, will benefit greatly from learning through games and group work,too. Students of varying English levels can work together to support each other, make decisions together and learning from one another. Games and group work can involve all of the aspects of language—listening, speaking, reading and writing.

 

In our class, children experience teamwork in many different forms. They may be asked to work in pairs, small groups, or larger groups on a variety of different things. They may be asked to work in teams for physical activities such as ball games or running games or more formal activities such as projects. Children also often form their own team activities during their play time.

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation” – Plato

I am sharing an interesting post about the benefits of Team Building, here

 

Benefits of Team Building

1.  Getting to know each other better
2.  Bonding
3.  Building team spirit
4.  Encouraging tolerance and understanding
5.  Creating a sense of belonging and connectivity
6.  Creating a climate of cooperation and collaborative problem-solving
7.  Improving motivation
8.  Improving communication within the group
9.  Team development – Building a community with a common purpose
10. Developing trust, care, compassion, kindness and creating empathy (Trusting each other AND yourselves)
11. Building self-esteem

12. Creating an understanding and awareness of individual differences, personality strengths and  weaknesses
13. Breaking down barriers
14. Creativity – Doing things differently! Out of the box!!
15. Higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment.And all the time … Having a huge amount of FUN

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Interactive Grammar Notebooks-part c

As I had already written in my first  and second posts on Interactive Grammar Notebooks, last year was my first year to use interactive notebooks.  Before school began, I found myself  with the desire PLUS precious  direction, from my  amazing Greek colleague, Papadeli Sophia !

I have to thank her again so much, for all the inspiration and support!

Overall, they were a success- Experimenting on them during this first school year with few students, among whom was my daughter, was great fun!…I’m sure, we’ll do much better this  year ,with all my afternoon classes, at school!

This  notebook is built, by adding each grammar skill or concept as an insert gradually throughout the year as they are introduced to new material. By the end of year, they  have a complete notebook they can use as a reference and I can use as an assessment tool or portfolio piece.This is simple and can be done with any grammar curriculum we are using.

First, I used a common notebook,  school glue, scissors and markers/colored pencils. Since we are fully stocked on school supplies, I did not need to make any new purchases.

Then, ideally, we should reserve the first 1-2 pages for the table of contents. I admit that, I didn’t do that, this first year…Going forward, we add a new page for each skill.

The next step is to find some ideas or even printables and foldables for the Grammar notebooks …I asked Sophia Papadeli to help me get started and I also visited Pinterest and used my imagination and creativity, of course!

Here are just  few new pages for you to have a look at, get inspired and hopefully, start your own Grammar Notebooks, this school year!

PREPOSITIONS OF PLACE/MOVEMENT/TIME

PREPOSITIONS OF TIME

PRESENT PROGRESSIVE

BE GOING TO

 

 

BE GOING TO for making predictions based on evedence

BE GOING TO -plans

WILL

PAST PROGRESSIVE

 

ARTICLES

RELATIVES

COUNTABLE-UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS

REPORTED SPEECH

EXPRESS FUTURE PLANS, USING THE PRESENT PROGRESSIVE

SOME/ANY- EXPRESSING QUANTITY

MODALS ( A guessing game, using pictures)

 

Christmas fun in class- and few post-holiday class activities

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I have been the class Christmas lessons  planner for many-many years. We have games, crafts, fun language activities, and an absolute blast with my students. I also always have printable games on hand, just in case I need to fill some time. Usually, though, we end up with way more fun than there is time for.

This year, I used most of the activities I have already written about, in older posts, and added few new ones…

In this post,I just wish to share some pictures, which prove how much fun we had, while learning new things about Christmas and practicing our English , at the same time!

For more details about most of them, please, feel free to read my earlier relevant blog posts, here , here or here.

This year, we made beautiful 3D crafts with my little ones, learning the Christmas vocabulary a, at the same time.

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We played lots of fun games, with all classes!

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We sang Christmas songs!

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We even sang old-time-classic songs  such as “The rainbow song”, using Christmas ornaments!!

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We made Advent calendars!

 

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We decorated our special Christmas trees!

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We wrote Santa letters and met one of his best friends!

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Here  are some cool post-holiday classroom activities I have come across online and I have decided to use in my class next week!

I hope, they’ll work!

POST-HOLIDAY CLASS ACTIVITIES

We  should try to avoid diving right into the schoolwork after break. Instead, I think we should make the adjustment a little bit easier by welcoming students back with fun activities that incorporate what they did over their holiday vacations.

Let’s get our students back on track and motivated to learn once again.

Create a Holiday Memory Book

Have students capture their best holiday moments in a memory book. Students will have more than enough to share, and a memory book is a great way to do that. Ask students to draw or bring in a picture of their favorite holiday outing or gift. Then ask students to write a few sentences about it. Once students have completed their memory book page, have them share it with the class or bind them all together to make a class book.

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 Make New Year Resolutions

Returning from holiday break is the perfect time to teach students how to reflect upon the past year and to make positive changes for the new year. Tell students that the new year means a fresh start and they can make promises to themselves that are positive and realistic. As a class, brainstorm a few resolutions together. Give them the following prompts to get started.

  • In 2015 I want to learn …
  • In 2015 I want to get better at …
  • My goal(s) for 2017 are …

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Have a Show and Tell

As soon as students enter the classroom after winter break, they inundate you (and each other) with stories about what every student received from Santa, or all of the fun places that they went while on break. What’s a better way to share all of their experiences and new toys then to bring something in for a little old show and tell? For a different spin on the traditional activity, try having students guess who brought what item in.

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Creative Writing Prompts

A creative and calm activity to get your energetic students back into the grind is to have them write about what they did and received over break. Students can get the opportunity to discuss their adventures in a fun writing piece. For instance, ask students to write about the best gift they gave and what made it so special, or describe their family’s holiday traditions in detail. Here are a few more creative writing prompts.

  • What are you most grateful for this holiday season?
  • What was your favorite holiday food that you had over break?
  • Who was the person you spent the most time with and why? What did you do with them?
  • Write about a place that you went over the Christmas break.
  • Write about something you did with your family over Christmas break.

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Play a Fun Game

Welcome your students back to school with a few fun games! Try to avoid piling on the schoolwork right away and instead try playing a few fun games to ease students back into the routine. Review games are a great choice for easing students back in. Try games like the “Hot Seat” where one student faces away from the board and chooses three people to give them clues about what is written on the board behind them. Another fun game is “Ping Pong,” where students are divided into teams of two and the team that gets the answer correct gets to throw a ping pong ball into a one of three cups to get a prize for their team. Prizes are things like a homework free pass or lunch in the classroom.

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Host a Party?

Before you must get back to all the school chaos and your crazy school day routine, kick off the first day or two back to school with a party! Invite the classroom next to yours over for some cookies and hot chocolate. Allow students to share their holiday break stories over a warm cup of cocoa! Students will love the ease and flow of a relaxing day back to school.

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Christmas break was a time for rest and relaxation, so it’s important to remember to ease students back into the school routine slowly and carefully. This will ensure that everyone will be motivated and ready to learn in no time.

Back-to-school fluency enhancing activities

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Fluency refers to how well a learner communicates meaning rather than how many mistakes they make in grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. Fluency is often compared with accuracy, which is concerned with the type, amount and seriousness of mistakes made.

I personally, don’t believe that  fluency is a goal worth striving towards only with students who are at a fairly advanced level. I firmly believe  that the learning of a language is about communication, and I  feel that fluency should be the main goal in our teaching and that it should be practiced right from the start.

More traditional teachers may tend to give accuracy greater importance;In my classes, I tend towards fluency.

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Of course, we learn a language for communication, so I think that if a student is fluent but not accurate, it is still important to check whether the mistakes or errors can not block communication. Otherwise we need to correct any mistake that can be an obstacle to communication. I just want to stress out that being fluent without being accurate is not the issue we should focus on if communication is taking place effectively.

Let’s be honest: in terms of preparation for the world outside the classroom, fluency is sometimes even more important than accuracy.

Why I am more interested in fluency than accuracy in the early stages of language acquisition? Because,  I think back to my own elementary school days… I disliked teachers who singled out students for correction. I think correcting speech is counter-productive to learning. I think some students are initially going to have a difficult time learning English due to not comprehending what is being said and also due to vocalizing new words. So, if I correct everything said, students might feel that English is too difficult. They may perhaps tune out and/or become embarrassed and may develop a negative attitude to English.

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The most important thing for me has been to recall the wonderful teachers I have had in the past with a view to modeling them as much as possible in my own classrooms. And I have found reflecting on the outcome of my lessons brought me closer to the ideal. This I found was a positive way for me to improve my teaching and create an ever more joyful atmosphere for the learning of English as a foreign language for my young students.

Actually, I have realized that, it’s usually easier to become more accurate in a language!  Fluency is harder to master, so that’s what we should focus on at first, even  in the beginning of the school year! Especially, then!

An example I can give, comes from a close friend of mine, who loves learning languages. This is what she has told me…:”A long time ago when I learned French in a “Frontisterio” (  private Language Institutions in Greece) , the language teachers believed that the most important thing was grammar. So I learned French grammar very well—even to this day I am proficient. But I can hardly speak a sentence of French because no one cared about my fluency—only my accuracy.”

All in all, quite an important factor in education towards  cooperation, is the teacher’s attitude. If she favors a cooperative style of teaching generally and does not shy away from the greater workload connected with group work or projects, if she uses activities to increase fluency, then the conditions for learning to cooperate and develop fluency,  are good. The atmosphere within a class  can largely be determined by the teacher, who – quite often without being aware of it – sets the tone by choosing certain teaching methodology and practices.

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Activities that help to develop fluency focus on communication- for example discussions, speaking games, presentations…..

Here are just few ideas for icebreaker and fluency activities, suitable for a wide rage of students, which have worked in my classes.

a) Start with a ball of yarn.Say your name and an interesting fact about yourself.Then, holding an end, toss the ball to a student.The student will say his/her name and an interesting fact , then holding on to part of the yarn,toss the ball to another student.By the time everyone has spoken, there will be a large web of yarn that can be displayed on the bulletin board with thumb tacks, if you want!

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(This activity is excellent as a review tool, too.Each student says something about the subject, , then tosses the yarn)

b) Split the students in pairs. Each pair will have 30 seconds to find 5 things they have in common.At the end of the 30 seconds, put two pairs together and give the four a minute or so to find something all four students have in common.

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Finally, each group can present the list of things they have in common.(You can use this activity, to form student groups, too)

c)Pass around, a bag of M&Ms.Tell the students to take as many as they want.Once all the students have M&Ms, tell them that for each M&M, they took, they have to say/write one thing about themselves. For instance, if a student took 10 M&Ms , they would have to say/write 10 things about themselves, different for each color.

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Examples:

Green: something about school

Red: something about my family

Blue: something about my hobbies

Yellow: something about my future plans

Brown: something about my friends

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(Variation-use a roll of toilet paper, instead of M&Ms)

 

d)Me in a bag, has been one of my most favorite activities, for many years now…

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I put a few items that represent me in a large paper sack.I put a paintbrush because I love drawing, my favorite book , my favorite CD, a cookbook etc

The students, guess the significance of each item as I pull it out of the bag.This discussion helps the kids to know me as a person.

Each student then, has a turn to bring in his/her own ” Me in a Bag”, giving everyone in the class the chance to shine!

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e)Another fluency activity that I love, is “My timeline” or ” My numbers”.

I start the lesson by drawing a line on the board and and write important dates of my life on it.

Students ask me questions about my life to get them as answers.

For homework, students draw their own timelines.and they talk in pairs about them. I walk around listening…

Brainstorming!

Students playing and having fun, while learning new languages!

f) Music mingle , is also one of my favorite fluency activities.

Move with the music, stop when it stops, grab a partner and talk about a happy memory ( or anything else, eg holidays, favorites etc) until music starts again….

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g)True or False activities ,have always been my favorite ones!

I write 4 facts about myself and read them to my students. 3 facts are true but 1 is false.

Students take my little true-false test.Then, I survey students to learn the results. We go back over each question to see what they  thought about each statement.

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That gives a chance to tell them a little about me.

Then, on a sheet of paper, students write 3 interesting facts about themselves that are true and 1 that is false. A class discussion starts.

h)Open questions session: Sometimes, just a simple opportunity to ask questions, can benefit our class. When I have a few minutes, I open the floor for my older students to ask me questions.,They can be about anything! They just love it!

Learning a foreign language is not just a matter of memorizing a different set of names for the things around us… it is also an educational experience.

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Whatever the activity, think through the language they will need to complete it and include some kind of post-activity focus on form slot. Variety is important as anything can become dull if it’s done too often and is thus predictable. Vary the task, the seating arrangements, group size and materials used.

Good luck!

9 All about me: this is another favourite project of mine! We spend at least two lessons on it.First , I start by asking them to play the guessing game "Me in a bag": I take out of a bag several objects which have to do with my life and interests and ask the class to guess how they are related to me! I ask them to do the same during our next lesson for themselves and challenge their classmates to guess about them! Finally, they are assigned to write everything they consider important about themselves on this paper figure which is displayed on the classroom walls!

NEW favourite Christmas games and activities

 

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Well, every last week  before our Christmas school break, we  ALWAYS leave the course books aside and start….enjoying Christmas !

Actually, it all starts much earlier…..about a month before Christmas, I put up  our Advent calendars, full of surprises inside…! This is when all  the fun starts! We continue with our 4th graders  short Christmas plays rehearsals and our  artistic Christmas cards ( to be offered to our Christmas show guests ) and we conclude with the Christmas games and activities week!!

I’m sharing some NEW ideas and  games that have really worked with my students, this year!

An Alternative Advent calendar

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I just love Advent calendars and I use different ones, each year in class! This year, we had  an alternative advent calendar, where we all had to do an act of kindness, each day. I found the idea on http://www.muminthemadhouse.com/

Kindness can cost nothing and I want to teach my students to be kinder than they need to be and feel that focusing on acts of kindness during Advent , will be a great learning experience and also spread some joy.

Our kindness mission statement:

  • Spread the word – encourage other people to join in and become happiness heroes
  • Have fun and enjoy making other people happy
  • To be kinder than you need to be

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I loved this  idea! We should remind  kids that, it’s more about the giving than the receiving. It is so easy to lose track of it in all the dazzle and ads and gifts and lights outside. It all becomes about the gifts and not the meaning and spirit of the holiday.

I used an old Advent calendar I had  at home, but you can also use the classroom  wall, as the ideal place to display the Advent trees. You can simply blue tac’d them to the wall.  This would work well on any surface and be topped  with a lovely star decoration.

Another idea is a hanging Advent Calendar . You can use small pegs, but strung them on to cord and then hung the trees  on the wall.

Some acts of kindness ideas for your own  Advent Calendar!

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  1. Donate a coat or jumper to charity (leaving a happy note in the pocket)
  2. Donate to the local food bank
  3. Make christmas cards for your neighbours
  4. Leave change in the vending machine
  5. Sort through your toys and donate any that you no longer play with to charity or your local church
  6. Leave chalk messages around where you live
  7. Sharpen all the pencils in the classroom at breaktime
  8. Write a letter to your sibling telling them why you love them
  9. Leave a beautiful homemade bookmark in your library book and give one to the Librarian
  10. Leave the pound in the shopping trolley next time you go to the supermarket
  11. Deliver cookies to your neighbours
  12. Tidy your bedroom
  13. Write a note and mail them to the houses with great christmas lights saying thank you for lighting up their house for you to see
  14. Sit next to someone you normally don’t at the lunch table and be nice to them
  15. Be a holiday helper – volunteer to deliver local christmas cards
  16. Make a bird feeder
  17. Send a care package to someone in the military
  18. Find three of your toys to give to the local childrens hospital
  19. Pass on some of your books to friends
  20. Give a lottery ticket to a stranger
  21. Donate books to your school library
  22. Leave out water for the birds
  23. Write thank you cards for your teacher, coach, Cubs leader or people that have influenced you in a positive way
  24. Clean up the area where you live by picking up litter.  Make sure you wear gloves and do it with an adult.
  25. Help round the house without being asked to
  26. Donate pet food to a local shelter
  27. Put together a shoebox for your local church
  28. Write a thank you note for the bin collectors and post person
  29. Wash your parents car
  30. Give a homeless person a blanket
  31. Deice your neighbours windshields in the morning
  32. Take everyone in your class a candy cane or cookie
  33. Take poinsettias to your nearest nursing home
  34. Make a christmas card for the school receptionist
  35. Offer to help an elderly friend or neighbour with their christmas decorations
  36. Make christmas flowers for the reception at school
  37. Make a thank you card for the school crossing staff
  38. Cook dinner for your family
  39. Offer to pack the shopping bags of the person in front of you and behind you at the supermarket
  40. Invite a new friend for a play date or out to play
  41. Walk someone elses dog
  42. Give out a complement
  43. Give out free hugs today
  44. Hold the door open for people all day
  45. Smile all day
  46. Let someone go in front of you in a queue
  47. Introduce yourself to someone new at school and chat with them
  48. Ring an elderly relative and have a nice chat to them

My super power

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I ask my student to imagine that , from 1/1/201…, all of them possess a super power that no one else knows about. The reason they were given these powers is so that they can use them to become better people and change the World!

I ask them to create the superhero version of themselves and explain why this superpower is important and what is the thing they can change about themselves or the World!

 

New Year acrostic poem

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Each student should refer to something they would like to achieve/change/have or not have for this year.

eg This year I’d like to have

2 large pieces of chocolate cake every day

0 worries and problems

1 big brown bookcase

6 months of vacation

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My 201…infographic

I ask my students to create their infographics about their hopes or ambitions. Found the idea on http://www.easel.ly

 

Fortune teller

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I ask them to write down 3 new things they would like to try this year and test whether their wishes ill come true afterwards…A great warming-up, too.

Year in review

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This is a nice activity for older students. I ask them to write short paragraphs about the things that made last year special/difficult/challenging for them. It can be done with or without a photos collage.

My New Year message to the world

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I ask them to imagine that, their words of hope and prayers for the New Year ,might reach the troubled young people either here or in distant war-torn countries.

Then I write this question on the board:

What would your message say, and to whom would you send it?

The elf poem

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This is an amazing activity which I learned about in one of the Tesol Macedonia/Thrace/Northern Greece Christmas events, a couple of years ago….I think, the activity was presented to us by Katerina Kyriakidou.

I tell my kids that, they are going to hear a poem twice. After each dictation they have to write down as much as they can remember from the poem.

We can give them any poem.Then, the class dictates the poem back to the teacher.This poem below, was written by Linda Brown.

” I saw an elf, all dressed in green

The cutest elf I’ve ever seen

I said:  like your turned-up toes

He wrinkled up his elfin nose

I said: I like your nice green beard

He blushed and smiled

then, disappeared!”

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My variation to this activity was to ask them write their own similar poems, as homework!

The plate drawing game

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This is one old-time-classic game, we all love!

This year, I could not afford to buy paper plates for all my students, therefore we used A4 sheets of paper to draw on….

Students, place their plates on top of their heads and are given the directions below:

  1. Draw a line for a floor
  2. Draw a Christmas tree . Add decorations of your choice.
  3. Draw a star on top of the tree
  4. Draw a fireplace with a mantel next to the tree
  5. Draw a present under the tree
  6. Draw a stocking hanging from the mantel of the fireplace.Add something IN it, if possible.

Winner: the player with the most points

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Points

2 points if the tree touches the floor

2 points if the stocking is touching the mantel

1 point if the star is above the tree

1 point if the star touches the tree

1 point if the fireplace doesn’t touch he tree

1 point if you draw something in the stocking

2 points, if the present is under the tree.

An alternative letter to Santa

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I ask  the older students to write a letter to Santa asking for a present for someone ELSE!

I begin by bringing a homemade present I received or made for someone.

What makes that present special? Does it reflect the personality of the giver?

I then invite my students to tell about presents they have made for others. Why are such presents so remembered?I even have them ask their parents about special presents they have given and received.

Presents from the Heart

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I ask students to think of presents from the heart and tell or write about them ( preferably, on festive paper) starting out like this:

The gift I would most want to have two years from now is………

The gift you most often give to me, maybe without even knowing is…….

If I had only one wish to wish you, I would wish you………….

Thank you for all the gifts you give to me, especially………………………

Story or class discussion starters

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Why do you think being an elf is a “toyriffic” job?

With so much work to be done, when do you think Santa’s elves get a chance to celebrate?

How are they getting ready for Christmas?

What would an elf want for Christmas?

What elf jobs would you like to do?

How do you think the workshop and elf jobs will be different in 2020?

Musical Xmas

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I first read about this activity in the ELTNews newspaper , November 2010 issue . It was one of the inspiring ideas shared there, by Akis Davanelos , a Greek teacher trainer and publisher.If you manage to find that issue and read the whole article about how to             ” Practice GRAMMAR before Christmas”, on page 10, you’ll be surprised by his amazing ideas!

Akis, suggests that we could use the following songs to practice various grammar points:

Past tenses:

Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer

Frosty the Snowman

Prepositions

Jingle Bells

The Christmas song ( Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…)

Pronunciation points ( Rhyming words)

Frosty the Snowman

Jingle bell rock

Let it snow

Rocking around the Christmas tree

The Christmas song

Winter Wonderland

Away in a Manger

We Three Kings

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We can also, ask our students to write their own versions based on well known Xmas tunes.

The twelve days of Christmas

The Christmas song

The Christmas story book game

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A game I ..invented this year and my students simply loved!  I read them a story about Christmas customs and traditions in other countries. Each time they heard the name of a country, they had to pass a little notebook mosa15christmasgames (768x1024) to the person on their right! The last student, could take it home!They really loved it, and it was the perfect motivator for them , to get focused on the story !

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Christmas Charades

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A traditional game with a Christmas twist…

Put the class into two teams.

Give each team a set of cards.

Explain the rules: One person from each team starts. He/she will select a card. on each card is written the name of a song, book or film (with a Christmas link). He/she must then mime what is said on the card to the rest of his/her group. No speaking is allowed.

First, we should mime the category, ie song-open hands around mouth, book- open hands in a book reading pose and projector-like pose for a film.

Star wars!

Star wars!

Also, explain symbols for “little words” eg T shape for “the”, thumb and forehead together for “little word” etc.

When the team guesses the first one, the second person can take a card and so on.

The winners are the first team to mime and guess all their cards correctly.

The “Thank you” game

You need a pen and a piece of paper for each player.

In every turn, each player has to write one line on the piece of paper in their hand, fold it over so that the next player can’t see what has been written and pass it on to the player on their left.

In order, each payer has to write:

  1. The name of the person receiving the letter-someone famous is best.
  2. Thanks for a particular present.
  3. A line describing the present or what is good about it.
  4. A line saying what the present is going to be used for.
  5. A closing sentence.

When you have finished, take turns to read the hilarious results!

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For more Christmas fun ideas, you should read my last year post: Our English class favourite Christmas games

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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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Back to school:Me in a bag and a…portrait!

 

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My bag this year

It’s finally  time to start building the classroom community. As I write my lesson plans, I include getting-to-know-you activities. These activities provide opportunities for the students to interact positively with one another. The children are eager to make new friends, learn about the classroom environment, and become part of a school family. After all, the classroom will become a home away from home for the next ten months.

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Few of the items in my bag

ME IN A BAG:

I know that there are many people who already do this activity but I hope that someone will find this helpful for the beginning of the year!

Yes, this is my night buddy!! We always sleep together!

Yes, this is my night buddy!! We always sleep together!

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.

 

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

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

Note: The Me in a bag  idea is adapted from a classroom banner example. The professional book is from a Scholastic book club order. I do not think it is available from the online store at this time. You could include a simple note to families requesting three or four small objects for each child to share.

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Students spend some time trying to guess about each item in my bag…

 

Well, when it is my kids’ turn to let their classmates guess about the items in their bags, they share so many personal stories, too! A precious moment was  yesterday ,when a girl showed the class an old DVD…and finally revealed that it was her late grandmother’s birthday present when she was much younger!

What is my favourite sport? I am going to tell you why, as soon as you make the right guess!

What is my favourite sport? I am going to tell you why, as soon as you make the right guess!

 

They used to watch it together, laugh and share unforgetable moments ! Then , she broke down in tears!! ” I really miss my grandma, miss” she said! I gave her a hug and thanked her for sharing such a precious moment with the rest of the class!

Guess about my talents!

Guess about my talents!

 

MY PARTNER’S  PORTRAIT

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After the portraits are ready, they are handed to the kids who use the frames to write words which talk about them.

I have students draw and color their partner’s portrait on the first day of school. These portraits make perfect keepsakes to pull out at the end of the year. Students are later , asked to brainstorm descriptive phrases and adjectives to write on the frame of their portrait , which talk about their special interests personality and talents! They are also free to comment on their partner’s portrait. Finally, all portraits are displayed in class. Rapport matters!

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Their partner, can’t see his/her portrait until it’s done!They may comment on it later…

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

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

Rapport matters!

Rapport matters!

 

 

 

 

 

Brain Gym

brain gym 3I came to know Brain Gym, 3 years ago when I was at Pilgrim’s  Canterbury, UK.!

Bonnie Tsai , our Teacher Trainer, was my mentor!Since then, I have been using brain gym activities in my classes regularly with huge success!

One of my favourite Bonnie's posts on Brain Gym!

One of my favourite Bonnie’s posts on Brain Gym!

I would like to share some of them here ,for you to be able to use them in your class too and maybe, decide to attend Bonnie’s NLP class at Pilgrim’s one day and know more about it!

The purpose of brain gym is to wake up students who are tired, sleepy or just plain bored.It does this, through simple little exercises to build up lagging energy.

Students need some sensory stimulation to move into an english class mood or as a little filler at any point in the lesson when you feel the energy level going down…

You may however find yourself ,with some students who need to be calmed down , on a Friday afternoon, before a holiday, or even before an importnat test!

Here are some activities that can be used to wake up tired learners or to relax them according to their needs.

Here are some examples:

Unfolding ears

Unfolding ears

Unfolding ears

Ask students to gently unfold the lobes of their ears and give them a gentle massage.Before listening activities, the students’ ears are awake and ready to listen.It should take around one minute!

Lazy 8sbrain gym 8

Ask students to make the figure 8 on its side with their hand.They should make a large 8 and it is very important that they follow the movement with their eyes!

They do the same movement with each hand first…then ask them to make the same movement with both their hands.Lazy 8s take around 2 minutes to do and are very useful before reading activities.

They help students to develop peripheral vision and at the same time create neuron connections between the left and the right hemispheres of the brain.

Stamping feet and lion’s roar

Lion's roar, will wake up even the tiredest student!

Lion’s roar, will wake up even the tiredest student!

We all have times of the day when our energy levels go down..

At the beginning of the lesson, ask students to stand up and stamp their feet as fast as they can!

Follow this by asking them to bend their knees slightly and make a face like a ferocious lion!

This will wake up even the tiredest student!

Crazy brain gym

Ask students to rub their stomach in a circular, clockwise motion, with their left hand, while massaging the top of their head in an antiwise motion with their right hand at the same time.

They should then, tap their right foot and imagine they are eating a delicious ice cream while watching a monkey riding a bike!

Finally, they should sing “Happy Birthday”!

This activity, besides being a lot of fun, requires the students to use all of their senses.

WARMERS AND FILLERS

Picking fruit

There are no...fruits on that tree but, our imagination helps us see the tree covered with them !

There are no…fruits on that tree but, our imagination helps us see the tree covered with them !

Ask students to stand up.Ask them to imagine, they are standing in a fruit orchard. Above them are lovely fruit trees full of ripe fruit.

Tell them to reach up and pick one fruit from the top of the trees.Go through all the senses: smell it, touch it, listen for  any sounds from inside, taste it. Then ask each student to describe the fruit.

For younger learners, you ask them to draw their fruit and then go around showing their drawings to each other.

Crystal Vase

Each student picks the vase up and does an action with it

Each student picks the vase up and does an action with it

Ask the students to stand in a circle if possible.

Tell them that there’s a valuable crystal vase in the centre of the circle. Each student picks the vase  up  and does an action with it before handing it onto the next student.Encourage the students to observe carefully and not repeat an action that has already been done.

Ask older students to recall all the different actions they saw.Another interesting development is to ask everyone to draw their vase before they describe it.It is amazing how differently everyone perceives the vase!

Hook ups 

Cross your left ankle over your right. Extend your arms crossing
your left wrist over your right. Bring your palms together and
interlace your fingers. Bring your hands up toward your chin. Sit
quietly for a minute with your eyes closed while you breathe deeply

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Relaxes the central nervous system. Connects the electrical circuitry
of the body. Crosses the center mid-line to activate both left and
right hemispheres of the brain. Helps us become emotionally
centered and grounded.

Box of nice things

Again ask students to stand in a circle and imagine an empty box in the middle.

Each student, puts something in it.

Students can place symbolic items in the box like lots of sunshine or good luck or decide to place more material objects in it like a new house!

Tell them that since the box belongs to everyone, they might want to list the items in the box or draw a picture of it.This is a lovely way to end a class or do before a holiday.

The basketball game

An imaginary game of basketball

An imaginary game of basketball

Put on some music with a strong rythmic beat . Get the group involved, in an imaginary game of basketball in which they throw the ball to each other, shoot and dribble the ball.Do this for about two minutes and then, get to work.

Passionate tennis champions!

Passionate tennis champions!

My own variation of this activity is the ” Passianate Tennis champions ” inspired by one of Ken Wilson’s presenations ! The students are asked to hit the tennis ball as passionately as possible with their rackets!

Relaxation

Bonnie, suggests that ,the music is either Mozart or Bach

Bonnie, suggests that ,the music is either Mozart or Bach

Music is an effective way of creating a learning environment.

Why is this? Music can create a desired atmosphere for telling a story.It can also be used to build up a sense of anticipation.

Music can focus concenration and increase attention.

In this way, soft music can be used as a background to activities such as creative writing or even group work.It is useful before a test to release tension and can also be used to enhance imagination! I love music in my class!

In the photo, the students were asked to draw a picture of what they had been thinking about while they were listening to Mozart 40th Symphony, during the "relaxation" activity in the end...we used the follwing exercises: unfolding ears, lazy 8s,stabbing feet and lion's roar, crazy brain gym,picking fuit, crystal vase, box of nice things, the basketball game ( plus, my variation: the tennis game) , relaxation!

In the photo, the students were asked to draw a picture of what they had been thinking about while they were listening to Mozart 40th Symphony, during the “relaxation” activity in the end…

 

Bonnie, suggests that it is either Mozart or Bach.I play music in my class even when my students are coming or leaving! And classical music, sofltly in the background, during tests!

Benefits of brain gym for learning:brain gym 4

* Academic skills – for example, reading, writing, spelling and maths
* Memory, concentration and focus
* Physical co-ordination and balance
* Communication skills and language development
* Self-development and personal stress management
* The achievement of goals – both professional and personal

 Brain Gym Resources

Web sites:

http://www.BrainGym.org for Brain Gym classes, instructors, one-on-one consultants, and
general information about Brain Gym.

http://www.BrainGym.com for Brain Gym books, posters, music, and other resources.

Take a look at Sharon Gerber’s Brain Gym video on YouTube She’s got everybody
doing Brain Gym: little kids, big kids, adults, even “sophisticated” college kids. What an
inspiration. And the music’s terrific.

Books:

Paul Dennison, Brain Gym and Me. Ventura, CA, Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc. 2006. Brain
Gym’s founder discusses his own learning challenges, how Brain Gym came about, and
some specific Brain Gym movements.

Paul Dennison and Gail Dennison, Brain Gym®, Teacher’s Edition, revised,
Ventura, CA, Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc. 1994. Shows how to do Brain Gym
movements and what they’re for. Basic Brain Gym book although a bit hard to learn Brain
Gym from a book.

Carla Hannaford, Smart Moves: Why Learning is not All in Your Head, 2nd ed.
Great Ocean, 2005. The science and physiology behind Brain Gym. Despite it’s theoretical
focus, it’s easy to read. Highly recommended.

Jerry Teplitz, Paul Dennison, and Gail Dennison, Brain Gym for Business. Ventura,
CA, Edu-Kinsesthetics, Inc. 1997. Although it’s for adults, the book is easy to
“translate” for children. It’s alphabetical and has an index, very useful.

Isabel Cohen and Marcelle Goldsmith, Hands-on: How to Use Brain Gym in the
Classroom. Edu-Kinesthetics, 2002. Practical “how to” although knowing some Brain
Gym already makes the book easier to use. Wonderful variations on the movements and
fun photographs of kids in South Africa doing Brain gym.

Sharon Promislow, Making the Brain Body Connection, Rev. Ed. Enhanced
Learning and Integration, 2005. Although not specifically a B

School Christmas shows and some thoughts on Drama and ELT

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Just a few drama activities can bring an EFL/ESL classroom to life. The trends in English Language Teaching (ELT) lean heavily toward communicative and authentic language use. Drama provides lots of immediate resources and is fun for teacher and students alike. The fear factor for a new drama user is the hard part to overcome.

Some traditional style teachers are afraid they will appear unprofessional and even risk being fired if they focus the lesson on ‘playing’ instead of serious study. Some language teachers feel comfortable only when using the course textbooks and feel that drama activities could take away from their position as the language “role model”. Instructors can be wary of focusing too much on “drama” and not the real subject; English. There is also the issue of control here. A class of 25 students who are working in groups on a drama activity can be a nightmare for a leader who wants to control the timing, language use and focus of the unit.

“If drama can really enrich the language class in all these ways, why are so many teachers reluctant to use it? Many still think of drama as ‘theatricals’, because this is their only experience of it. Often the fault lies not with the individual teacher, but with the training that he or she has received; a training that presents education as the one-way transmission of knowledge from the teacher to the student, rather than the creation of a learning situation in which the student is also the teacher.” (Wessels: 14)

“Drama demands enthusiasm- not only for the lesson, but also for the students. And this in turn depends on the formation of a relationship of mutual trust in which neither teacher nor student feels ‘at risk’, but they willingly change roles and status to achieve the aims of the lesson.” (Wessels: 15)

‘Drama can help the teacher to achieve ‘reality’ in several ways. It can overcome the students’ resistance to learning the new language:

  • by making the learning of the new language an enjoyable experience;
  • by setting realistic targets for the students to aim for;
  • by creative ‘slowing down’ of real experience;
  • by linking the language-learning experience with the student’s own experience of life

And drama can create in a students a need to learn the language :

  • by the use of ‘creative tension’ (situations requiring urgent solutions);
  • by putting more responsibility on the learner, as opposed to the teacher.’

(Wessel: 53-54)

Christmas sketses , are a good chance for my youngest learners, to use their english for the first time, in front of a real audience!

Christmas sketses , are a good chance for my youngest learners, to use their english for the first time, in front of a real audience!

 

Being involved in a  School Christmas play is great fun, whether the play is religious or secular, a variety show, drama or pantomime. It is also good experience for children as it develops confidence and communication skills.

I have been staging Christmas plays from many years now…And  I just love it!!

There are so many recources out there for all teachers but, I personally believe that, the teacher could better use the students’ own talents in organising an original dramatic production or variety style show. The children could be involved in designing scripts and mimes, thus enhancing their creative literacy.

The creative teacher or community group leader has a number of choices when organising their end of year or Christmas play. Traditionally certain types of plays have been popular during the Christmas season. These are the types , I choose from:

1. The variety show

  • This simply showcases the children’s talents in the best way possible. To be successful, a variety show should contain some instrumental performances, jokes, comedy skits, simple dance routines, group and solo singing.Not really easy when it comes to my school which lacks all the basics! It’s my DREAM, to stage such a  school show one day soon, though….
  • Novelty acts such as magic tricks, juggling, gymnastics and puppet performances may also be included.
  • This type of concert is ideal for introducing a multi-cultural element allowing students to share and experience music and dance from different countries.
  • 2.The Pantomime

  • They have been traditional Christmas fare fro many centuries. They feature comic characters and are really easy to stage with almost all classes and under all circumstances!
  • Pantomimes are comical and rely heavily on masks (or face painting) and costuming for their effect.
  • Plot wise pantomimes are very simple. Easy to use even with students whose english is limited!I also like them , because they depend on improvisation!
  • 3. The Traditional Nativity Play

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  • Browse the Net on your own,  to find out more…I do so, every single year!
  • After all, drama, is crucial when it comes to foreign language teaching, isn’t it?Image