ABC with bottle caps games and a… Beanstalk !

Have your little ones just mastered the alphabet? Then it is time for a revision! And what could be a better way to revise than by playing a game? After searching online, I found this incredible idea: The ABC Beanstalk on this amazing blog! I tried it and it really worked! Why don’t you give it a try, too?

https://rockinteachermaterials.wordpress.com

I found this idea a great one,  since it can also be used as an in-class project which can later decorate the wall of your classroom! Let’s take it step by step.

Firstly, make sure that your students are familiar with the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. Prepare the beanstalk and bring it to the class, but make sure that you haven’t glued the leaves. Give the leaves to your students and ask them to put them in alphabetical order. Then, you can glue the leaves all together.

Now that the beanstalk is ready, it’s time for a board game! Give each student a game piece and ask them to place them at the bottom of the beanstalk. Explain that they have to roll the dice and move forward the number they roll. Once they land on a leaf, they have to say/spell a word starting with that letter.  If not, then they have to move one leaf back. The students who reaches the cloud first is the winner. Make sure you reward the winners! You can give him or her a big sticker. I often play this game in teams and not in pairs, using a big beanstalk poster on the wall. In this case, I award them one point, if they get the word right and a second point , if they manage to spell it right, too.

This is a fun and engaging way to revise the alphabet that your students will certainly love!

Bottle caps games

a)HOW TO PLAY the “Bottle Caps ALPHABET” memory GAME

(1) Make sure that all the caps are messed up so that they aren’t in order.

(2)  Turn all of the caps over so you cannot see the letters anymore.

(3) Place them in neat rows.

(4) A player turns over 2 caps.

….. If there is a match, they put those caps in their own pile and then gets to take another turn.

….. If there is NOT a match, the player then turns the caps back over ( in the same spot that they found them) .   The next player then gets to take a turn.

(5) The game is over when all of the matches are found. The player with the most caps wins the game.

b) The “Bottle caps ALPHABET” word game

(1) Make sure that all the caps are messed up so that they aren’t in order, on the floor.

(2) Divide the class in two teams

(3) Invite two students, representing the two teams,to come where the caps are

(4) Give them one word and ask them to try and write using the bottle caps, as fast as possible!

(5) The fastest student, wins a point for his/her team

(6) The game is over when all of the students have had their turn. The team with the most points, wins the game.

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Fun ball games, in the ELT class

I love trying  activities, which I find online or hear about in Seminars and Conventions, in my classes, to see how they work! These amazing ball games ,which I read about here, few months ago, really worked !! So, I had to share!

By the way, busyteacher.org, is by far, my most  favourite site!

 With a database of 17,246 free printable worksheets and lesson plans for teaching English. BusyTeacher will save you hours in preparation time.

Highly recommended to all!

Sometimes, low tech is better! Even the most financially lacking classrooms or schools can provide fun, creative activities for their students!

So, here are some great activities for our English class that will only require a ball

  1. Spelling Ball –This game is as simple as ABC. Have your students stand in a big circle. Say a word and toss the ball to one of your students. Student says the first letter of the word and tosses the ball to a classmate, who has to say the second letter, and then tosses the ball to another. Students who make a mistake must sit down and play starts again with the teacher. The last student standing is the winner!

  1. Shoot for Points-Set up a trash can, bin, or any container that will serve as your “basket”. Students line up. Choose a topic or grammar point, for example Past Simple. Ask each student a question: Where did you go last weekend? If student uses the verb in simple past correctly, they may shoot for points: 10 points if they score; 5 if they miss, but answered the question correctly.

  1. Choose Your Victim-This is a great way to make a Q &A session more “active”. Students stand in a circle. Give them a grammar point to practice through questions, for example, tell them to ask questions with “ever” so they practice Present Perfect. First student asks a question with “ever” (Have you ever been to London?) and tosses the ball to a classmate who must answer correctly to stay in the game and earn the right to ask a question. Those who make a mistake must leave the circle. 

  1. Freeze!-This game is ideal for little ones! Practice vocabulary with flashcards. First, teach students the meaning of “Freeze!” as stop. Students sit in a wide circle with a set of flashcards in the center. Students pass the ball around the circle. Tell them they can’t hold the ball for more than a second. Cover your eyes while they do this and say, “Freeze!” The student who has the ball must stop and take a flashcard from the pile. Depending on your students’ ages and level, ask them to either say the word or use it in a sentence.

  1. It’s a bomb!-This is a great way for students to introduce themselves and learn their classmates’ names in a first lesson. Also a fun way to practice or review possessive pronouns! Have students sit in a circle. Give one of them the ball, and say, “It’s a bomb! The timer is ticking (use an egg timer!)” Tell them they have to say their name, pass the ball, and say their classmate’s name: My name is Juan. Your name is Maria. The student who has the “bomb” when the timer goes off, leaves the circle. Have students re-arrange themselves in the circle so they’re sitting next to different students, and start again.* I have also used this game to revise vocabulary! It works great with spelling tasks.

  1. Description Dodgeball-Use a very light, soft ball for this game, as students will be trying to hit each other! Have students line up on one side of the classroom (if you can play this in the schoolyard, better!) One student stands in the front next to you holding the ball. Describe one of the students in your class: This student is the tallest in the class. The student you are describing has to run to avoid being hit by the student with the ball. If the student is hit, he/she becomes the next thrower. You may also have students wear tags with names of cities, animals, or places for you to describe.I have used the same game to revise parts of the body. The teacher or a student, describes one of the students standing in the circle and the student with the ball, tosses it to the student with that characteristic. He must then spell /translate/define etc a word to stay in the game. eg ” He has blue eyes-She is has long brown hair…”

  1. Basketball Dare-Practice giving commands. Set up a “basket” far enough away for it to be a challenge, but not impossible for students to score. Students line up and shoot for the basket. If students score, they get to give you a command you must follow: “Walk like a monkey”, “Say something in Chinese”, “Stand on one foot for 30 seconds”, etc… Make sure you establish some ground rules, for example, students can’t give you commands that involve shouting, leaving the classroom, etc…

Enjoy! I am sure your students will just love them!

“PuppETs-European Travelers”: an amazing ETwinning project!

This old time classic pen pals project, gave a real purpose and meaning to learning a foreign language and helped the students experience education in a different country through European citizenship ,using Arts and crafts and a new tool: twinspace!

The project lasted  a school year and we had to complete many individual items . We had to create common projects about: ourselves, our school, our country , our town ,our favourite sports and hobbies, our customs and special traditions, our most favourite place in our countries , our daily routine and habits and also ,create our pen pals as PUPPETS , reading their appearance descriptions and looking at their self-portraits ! We lived in another country, as our school and country ambassadors, and experienced life in another class, far away from home, for one school year! Puppet-students, wrote on their twinspace diaries about their adventures and collaboratively wrote and put on stage, a puppet play about their experience! Our projects and letters were both sent to our friends by snail mail and uploaded on twinspace, to share and compare, in a different class.

Pedagogical Innovation and Creativity 

This was a new and innovative partnership for my school; It was the first time the students participated in such an innovative ETwinning project.

Both, group work and independent research was used  by pupils.

The innovation and creativity of the project is based on the following factors:

1.The willingness of the teachers involved to communicate easily – via phone, email, sms

2.All partner  schools being inclusive of each other, working as one unit on each common project

3.That the children felt able to be creative with their audience in the partner school in mind and dare to share and compare.They also used their imagination and creativity as well as their artistic skills, in order to create their puppet pals and write/stage their puppet plays.

4.That the learning from the project was so significant that it will not be lost from children’s minds

5.The student-Puppet-Ambassadors, created by and for the students ,served as a  meaningful pathway towards understanding and learning more about our friends.

6.Our student-Puppets project, provided the opportunity to break down classroom walls. It gave our students a chance, to see a world outside of their walls.Students,  became fully aware of the other European partner countries and their ways of life. Citizenship became a practical ,rather than theoretical, part of the curriculum.

7.Our ETwinning project, encouraged cooperation between teachers and unified learning. It also offered us the chance to collaborate with the local Puppet Theatre and museum,which was highly beneficial for all of us.

The scope of learning widened from English skills to several other subjects. The idea of being   partners in a European project, encouraged the pupils to find out more about different European countries, their nature, art, food and ways  of living. In the context of European partnerships,our work  provided in the shared learning environment were not only learning material, but were a meaningful pathway towards understanding and learning more about our partners.

  1. In this sense, the true revelation has been that apart from climate and language, people in Europe are essentially very similar with shared values and interests. Surely, this  helped us to overcome our prejudices and made us more open to intercultural cooperation.

Curricular integration 

The theme was chosen deliberately to ensure that the project and its work was as cross-curricular as possible. The areas of ,EFL,  social studies, expressive arts, citizenship,and basic IT , have all been integrated into the sharing of  our common  project activities .

The main focus was to improve the learning of English.

This fitted well into the Curriculum and all my  pupils  benefited.  Our  project involved MFL, language, social studies, expressive arts and basic technology.

We held a European Day of Languages to get the rest of the school know our European friends better. We also had “Puppet Theatre” days, when our student-puppet-guests, presented their projects about their country and way of life, to us! It was exciting to lend them our voices and have them “talk” to us-we could also ask them questions! We later,uploaded all the photos  on our Twinspace “Puppet Diaries”, where everyone could make comments or just read, share and compare ideas, thoughts and feelings.Finally, we were invited to take part in a local Puppet Theatre Festival, where we had the chance to present our play to the local community!

A second focus was citizenship. By exchanging information about each other’s towns, lives  and heritage, the pupils  learned a great deal about each other’s environment, way of life and culture. As far as my school is concerned, I made sure that almost all our project activities were connected  to each of our English coursebook units. Luckily, our coursebooks , are based on both cross curricular and cross cultural topics quite relevant to our Etwinning project theme! Also, they are based on both creative  project work and group  collaboration which  was  highly helpful in our Etwinning project!

I  made sure that, ALL my 85  students, in different age and  language level, took part in our  Etwinning project, a fact  that  proved to be a real challenge!

Finally, our student-puppet-guests, are going to spend their Summer holidays  in our partner countries, write a Summer Diary entry about their Summer adventures and come back home in Autumn, to share it with us.

Communication and exchange between partner schools 

From the beginning, there was a strong plan which gave the teachers guidelines, responsibilities and timescale for each element of the project.

What we practically did  ,was  that, we sent our pen friends all our group projects, on a topic we had already worked on in class and we asked them to reply ,by sending us the same topic based project! The projects we sent, were  in the form of posters, flyers, brochures, magazines, PP presentations, albums , videos, etc….In class, we talked about the similarities and differences of cultures and ways of life !

The students’ very first project was their self-portraits and appearance descriptions, which were used to help their  pals create their puppet-selves!

Arts and craft played an important role in n our project work !

If the kids felt  the need to personalize their work  even more, they were  free to include little gifts having to do with themselves or the project topic, … I always printed  lots of pictures and displayed  them on our school  notice boards.Students were also encouraged to interact on  twinspace ,both at the school ICT lab and from home. This all gave a real purpose and meaning to learning a foreign language.

In these difficult times of financial crisis , our students were able to live abroad, as puppets and experience life in a different country and class for a whole school year ,sharing and comparing our ways of life and making new friends.

The most important tool of the project , was our Twinspace Forums Puppet Diaries: by visiting the Puppet Diaries on a regular basis,  the children via their puppets, became ambassadors of our school and country! The pupils shared information and experiences, and thus learned from each other and strengthened their communication skills. They were also encouraged to interact on twinspace Discussion Forums, where they had to answer simple questions about themselves and our projects, as well as to read and make comments on their partners’ replies.

Collaboration between partner schools. 

In collaboration the teachers in all countries, decided on the range of topics that we would cover and the optimum time for sending/receiving the correspondence items.

We tried together  to do some pre-matching of pupils and classes , based on their known interests.

By all means we  ‘recycled’ language that pupils have previously learnt in their English class .

We created a teachers’  e-mail exchange, too and a frequent collaboration on the Teachers’ bulletin.

We all had to make our partner’s Puppet-Self! In other words, create a puppet-pal ,with similar characteristics with our pen pal, to host in our class and country,for the whole school year!

Our puppets, would travel, play and learn, with their pen pals, in another country and class,experiencing a different way of life.

We created  our Puppet-Ambassadors Diaries on Forums , which we often updated, with the help of our puppets.

We uploaded   videos about our area ,as well as videos about our schools and puppet plays.

We also agreed on the letters and projects which would be implemented by our pupils and agreed on  wall display of correspondence received from partner schools .

We made  questionnaires, and quizzes about our common projects to see how much we had learned, about each other.

We finally, decided to have our students host our guest Puppets during the summer and write on the Puppets’ Summer Diaries which would later be sent , along with the puppets, back home!

We all agreed that, all  students’  final products -our projects,  would be achieved through group work ! No group  project was sent abroad, before it was presented in class ,with the help of our student-puppet-friends and was later displayed on the classroom walls and ,finally, uploaded on Twinspace Pages.

Use of technology 

Some of the partner schools ,had not  used most of the  web tools we had to use for this project,  before .

I had small  groups of my students, use Photoshop to enhance and crop photos and then put them into Movie Maker to produce a school video  to be posted on Twinspace for other schools to view and had them to create  a Quiz about our town. We also used Kizoa to make short videos, padlet to work on our Puppet play script, collaboratively, and a Word Cloud Generator,for feedback.

I have consulted and collaborated with partner teachers using Skype and a webcam. Outcomes and project work were saved on Twinspace ,allowing uploaded materials and presentations to be compared and contrasted easily across all partner  countries.My students, were asked to interact with their pen friends on twinspace ,using their home computers, too !   Video-conferencing, using new webcams, were all new experiences for us .Our project brought a new and exciting dimension to our work.

Actually, the ability to use ICT is becoming more and more vital in today’s modern information society. However, ICT skills are still acquired mainly outside public educational institutes, in my country.

Actually, communicating with real people from other countries appeared to motivate the learners in a very special way, also in the use of basic ICT tools, mainly with our ICT teacher’s guidance.

Through ETwinning pupils learn to use ICT tools in a pedagogically meaningful way.

They wrote letters in the forums, chatted, did interactive exercises, took and uploaded digital photos and videos, searched for information, etc. And all this took place in the pedagogical context of studying English communication

Results, impact and documentation

The pupils were inspired and motivated. They had a great deal of fun working collaboratively .

Students had an opportunity to develop a sense of pride and respect toward other traditions. Our Puppet-Ambassadors, made Europe a more real concept, especially for those students who have never traveled abroad.

The organisation and commitment of the students has been very impressive.

The children showed a great interest in exploring another country and its way of life, as well as demonstrating increased motivation in learning a foreign language. They were always eager to participate, found information themselves, drew pictures, made posters, presented the project to other classes and last, but not least, create their own puppets and write their own Puppet play!

The group  work of my students was collected, and ultimately, shared with our partners. Writing and illustrating personal responses gave students the opportunity to boost their art and creative writing skills. Reading the personal responses of their European  partners, gave students greater insight into their partners’ context and worldview.

The project also brought the class together, as the pupils were working as a team. Through these activities the children also became ambassadors for the school and country .

The pupils  learnt from each other and strengthened  their communication skills.

All in all, we achieved   :

  • to promote group activities  for tolerance and cultural understanding;
  • to strengthen my students’ intercultural competences in order to be ready for responsible understanding of Europe’s identity and common values;
  • to develop the European dimension through arts education (puppets) and creativity with the aim to promote multiculturalism and tolerance between students;
  • To develop “Out-of-the-box” activities that would encourage mutual support, team building and group cohesion ;
  • Encourage personalized learning approaches by acquiring new artistic and pedagogical skills with the aim of developing new ideas and creativity of the students involved in the project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

 

Hippo and 1st graders! The importance of a mascot in class

Class mascots can be “friends” that help the students on their learning journey.

Our own ,1st graders class mascot, is our cute Hippo!!

Hippo, plays various roles in our classroom. He sits and watches over our class to make sure they are doing the right thing or plays and sings with us  ! He is the reason, my little ones want to learn English- to be able to communicate with him, without my…help!

Having a class mascot adds a little fun and humour to the classroom, too. We often laugh about what Hippo has been up to on the weekend, and his ability to fall asleep at any moment, is an ongoing lesson!

The students have helped to develop Hippo’s personality and interests.

If you have never  used a class mascot before, here’s  how to get started:

Choose a particular stuffed animal or toy as your class mascot and have children decide upon a name for their new friend. Then brainstorm with children some background information about the mascot. Some ideas might be:

  • Where and when it was born
  • All about its family
  • What its personality is like
  • How it got its distinctive features
  • Its best friends
  • What it likes to do
  • Where it has already traveled

The children can not only learn from the mascot, but can also  teach the mascot what they have learned .

The mascot can award stickers or small rewards to students who have  positive behavior for the week! Maybe the mascot could bring in his/her favorite book  for a read aloud. I have done this with the book “Hippo and friends” and have shared my experience in this blog post!

Use your imagination and think of how to integrate the puppet into your daily routines and teaching. There are so many possibilities!

I find the mascot to be an endearing member of the class. The students love Hippo like a friend.  They respond to Hippo as a teacher and seem to really listen to what he has to say.

The way  students really respond to our mascot, is just fantastic – I wonder at what age that enthusiasm and imagination starts to fade….

I often have other mascots coming to visit us for a couple of weeks… Princess Elizabeth, Hippo’s cousin from London has become the kids’ favourite!

They have even  learned how to bow to Her Royal Highness ! When they heard that she is not married..yet and she’s still looking for her Prince, they started suggesting  their.. brothers, uncles or cousins, for her future husband!! That was hilarious!

There are also some of Hippo’s friends : Mr Owl, Mr Elephant , Miss Duck etc

Kids are looking forward to Hippo’s visit in our class ! They miss him so much!

They talk about him at home! They bring him their own animal friends, to help him  make new friends and feel less lonely  ! They ask him questions about his hometown and country! They want to know more about his family, back home! By the way, his family is a… pink Elephant family-Hippo is…. adopted !- but, they don’t seem to find that weird ,at all ! !

Young learners get attached to mascots very quickly, especially if you bring it to every class and let the students touch, hug and talk to it. My students love offering our puppet water and got very concerned when Hippo got ill and had to go to hospital! Or had to wear glasses ! They also feel the need to give him a hug , each time he misses his mother, who lives in London!

It’s true that, class mascots can quickly give your room a sense of character and responsibility. They’re also a lot of fun! Whether it’s a live rat, a guinea pig, or a plastic potato with a silly grin, your mascot can become an incredibly rich part of the students’ year.

I can’t wait to see what fun we’ll have with Hippo and his friends  ,next!

Project work in our English class

 

blogprojectsSOSARA

Well, I have been teaching  through projects , since the beginning of my career as an English teacher,  in Greece! Even  when I had to work in a different school ,every single year or I had to work in 3 different schools on the same day, either by walking long distances carrying my heavy bag, or some years later, by driving to a different village school, during each break!!

When I started working on pen pals projects- via snail mail , nobody thought I was doing anything exceptional: only my students! Most headmasters used to refer to my extra working hours on those projects as ” useless, worthless and a waste of time”!

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A few years later, we were able to start working on collaborative projects , with our ETwinning partners!  A precious experience , for all of us! An opportunity, I am really thankful for! What an adventure for my students!

It has been HARD work all these years, but highly rewarding, at the same time-for both me and my students !

Arts and craft, play an important role in all our projects!

Arts and craft, play an important role in all our projects!

Few thoughts

I have come to the conclusion that, one way to get children doing what they like while still learning is through projects.  Children enjoy using their imagination – making up characters, stories; being creative – making things, drawing, colouring, cutting and gluing, using multimedia; finding out about interesting stuff; sharing, chatting, working together; talking about themselves, their friends and family, their interests; making choices, deciding for themselves, trying new things out; showing off!

I love it when my students become creative through project work! Their talents and interests, are revealed! Creativity is enhanced, too!

I love it when my students become creative through project work! Their talents and interests, are revealed! Creativity is enhanced, too!

What is a project?

In the primary school classroom, a project is usually the work leading to the production of a poster, letter, birthday card, booklet, magazine, play, sketch, puppet show, radio recording, video etc. It may be the work of one pupil, but more frequently is the collaborative work of a number of pupils working together in class.

One key element of all projects is the ‘theme’ – the basic idea. Whether the pupils are working individually or in groups they are all concerned with the same basic theme. This theme should be open enough to encourage creativity and provide a focus, but not so open as to confuse your pupils.

Some projects come in the form of a magazine or a booklet

Some projects come in the form of a magazine or a booklet

The characteristic of a project is that the learning comes from the ‘process’ – the work which leads to the result rather than the results itself. Most frequently the pupils will use a wide range of language, a variety of language skills and often knowledge which may have come from different parts of the curriculum.

Because the pupils are combining so many different skills and areas of knowledge, it is sometimes difficult to say exactly what the pupils are learning.

A flock of doves! Getting to know other children, by means of English!!

A flock of doves! Getting to know other children, by means of English!!

In any project they may be learning many different things at any one time:

• How to work with other people. • How to share work. • How to delegate work. • How to appreciate the work of others. • How to work alone. • How to take responsibility for a task.

Project-based learning prepares students for the real world.

Another english notice board in class.Here, we pin our class projects! Students are proud to show their parents and friends their work!

Another English notice board, in our classroom.We pin our class projects, on it ! Students are proud to show their work, to their parents and friends!

These are all social skills, but they may also be learning practical skills such as how to use scissors, to design a neat page, to speak clearly or how to operate a piece of simple machinery.

I do not ‘control’ every stage of the process in a project. I  suggest the original idea, assist in the planning process, and may provide advice or guidance in the actual work, but the project is essentially the work of the children – encouraging children to interact and develop independently of the teachers direct interference.

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Why I personally believe in project work…

It is all said in this article on EDUTOPIA:

“The old-school model of passively learning facts and reciting them out of context is no longer sufficient to prepare students to survive in today’s world. Solving highly complex problems requires that students have both fundamental skills (reading, writing, and math) and 21st century skills (teamwork, problem solving, research gathering, time management, information synthesizing, utilizing high tech tools). With this combination of skills, students become directors and managers of their learning process, guided and mentored by a skilled teacher.

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These 21st century skills include

  • personal and social responsibility
  • planning, critical thinking, reasoning, and creativity
  • strong communication skills, both for interpersonal and presentation needs
  • cross-cultural understanding
  • visualizing and decision making
  • knowing how and when to use technology and choosing the most appropriate tool for the task.

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PBL is not just a way of learning; it’s a way of working together. If students learn to take responsibility for their own learning, they will form the basis for the way they will work with others in their adult lives.”

“One of the major advantages of project work is that it makes school more like real life. It’s an in-depth investigation of a real-world topic worthy of children’s attention and effort.”-EDUCATION RESEARCHER SYLVIA CHARD

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What kind of end products can the children produce?

There are lots of ideas. Here are just a few I have used in my class.

a wall display e.g. posters or collages. Children all contribute a part to making a whole class end product.

a report or presentation e.g. on a survey conducted by the children, or research conducted via the Internet.

an invention  (depending on the target vocabulary)

a booklet or guide e.g. to their town or to an imaginary place

a model e.g. of an imaginary island

a photo story or video e.g. of a story made up by the children, or about a subject  researched by them

a magazine or newspaper

an event e.g. a show/pantomime, a fashion show, a party, an art exhibition –

the possibilities are endless.

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BUT

According to Scholastic, one of the biggest barriers to broad implementation of project-based learning, is fear. Some teachers and administrators are reluctant to scrap a teaching style they know to start over, especially when it means stepping into a new role as a facilitator rather than an expert in the classroom.

As Jane Krauss, coauthor of Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age, put it, “It’s hard to teach in a way we were never taught.”

Unfortunately, it’s the same with some parents, too: hard to accept as effective teaching ,a way of teaching they were never taught!

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In my school, I always make sure that,  almost all our project activities are connected  to each of our English coursebook units. Luckily, our coursebooks , are based on both cross curricular and cross cultural topics quite relevant to our  project themes ! Also, they are based on both creative  project work and group  collaboration which  was  highly helpful in my teaching with projects!

Some project ideas, for you to get started, can be found here….

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In good projects children benefit from the ‘process’ of preparing them, and they become a stimulus for better speaking and writing. They are also a record of individual work for display in class or at home. Children have a strong emotional investment in the best projects. They are personally interested in the topic and proud of what they have achieved.

 

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Apart from all the obstacles , there is  nothing more rewarding for a teacher than see how happy , engaged and enthusiastic her  students become when they work on something that makes sense and connects the class with the world! It’s priceless! Believe me! It’s worth any effort! It brings the class together, it helps the teacher connect with the students more and the students connect with their peers all over the globe ,by means of an international code of communication: English!

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All in all, PBL taps ones imagination, conception, subject knowledge, application of subject and generalized knowledge, creativity, dexterity, planning, doing, and completing, and when the project is completed, one will have learned much one will never forget!

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Because, ART matters!

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As an elementary school English teacher I’m always looking for new ideas for my students.  Pinterest, is always helpful for new ideas as well as sparking my own creativity!

Last school year, I was asked to teach Art to 1st and 2nd graders, for one hour a week…

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“What a challenge” I thought. By the way, in my school, there is no Art teacher!!! No ICT teacher! No Drama teacher! I love all these three subjects and have done my best to incorporate them in my English teaching , all these years! For my students sake…

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I have always believed that, using arts and crafts in the classroom can be an excellent way to facilitate language learning with young learners.

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Why I use arts and crafts in my English class?

  • I get students to work on projects in groups with a mixture of levels. For example, if students are creating a poster, then those with a lower level work on designing a ‘tag’ while higher levels write an accompanying text about the topic.

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  • Arts and crafts can be a great way to include cross-curricular activities in the English language classroom. Students can incorporate drama skills using masks they have made for role plays, for example.

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  • I find that teamwork, class cohesion and sharing are promoted if students have to work together to complete an art project.

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  • You can appeal to the competitive urge in many students by getting them to produce art work for competition, e.g., design a Christmas card or school magazine cover. I find that brightening up a classroom with students’ work is also great!

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  • Kinaesthetic learners who learn best by moving around and Visual / Spatial learners, who love making things will find arts and crafts activities motivating.

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  • I find arts and crafts useful for recycling language. You can use a wall display to revise vocabulary as a warmer.

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(This must be the topic of a future post, I guess…)

But, that case was different…Those young learners, had never been my students, before! They would start learning English in the 3rd grade! Therefore, my job was to be their…Art teacher, for about one school year- not their English teacher! How challenging was that! I am not an  Art teacher, but I can do Art in my English class, so….I thought, “Why not”?

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Things to keep in mind, before you start :

With very young learners, a teacher has to be patient…I sometimes break a project down into sections, over a number of classes.

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I have all materials ready before I begin. Students may lose interest while the teacher spends a few minutes searching for extra scissors! If the children need to bring in materials from home I always  ask them do so a couple of classes in advance and keep them somewhere safe.

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I usually go stage by stage and wait until everyone has completed a stage before moving on to the next one. Very young learners who finish first can help others so that they stay on task and don’t get bored.

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I have to make sure to leave plenty of time at the end of the session for tidying up and encourage monitors to make sure everything is put back in the right place.

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I always have an extra task for early finishers or ask them to work on the details or even help others with their work!

A crucial thing for me is, to ask them to learn to REUSE  ,when it comes to Craft work! Most of the crafts we did , were made by reusing things we could find in the recycling bins!

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It’s useful to show students an example of the end product. They will then have a clear idea of what they are going to make. I’ve learnt from experience that you should try the activity yourself first.
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You can use your imagination and creativity to come up with the right Art projects to work on but, in my case, Pinterest was my precious source of ideas! Highly recommended to all of you, as well…..
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One of the many projects we worked on, last school year was the “Pinwheels for Peace” project. Very proud of that!
Kids were often really proud of what they had made and liked to take things home to show their family. I had part of their work displayed on their classroom walls, of course. And I made sure that, they would keep all their work in a special Art folder , which they could take  home, in the end of the school year!

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What I  personally love about the Arts ,the most….

Well, the arts are a wonderful arena for fostering creativity, an important skill to have in a rapidly changing world, for our kids.

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Also,through the arts, children learn how to work together to achieve great things. As they work together, they learn to understand differences and diversity. They learn how teamwork contributes to great performance. By teaching students how to live and work together, the arts contribute to making schools safer and more peaceful learning environments.

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 One final thought…..
“When you think about the purposes of education, there are three,” Horne says. “We’re preparing kids for jobs. We’re preparing them to be citizens. And we’re teaching them to be human beings who can enjoy the deeper forms of beauty. The third is as important as the other two.”
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Interactive Grammar Notebooks -part a

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 so much, for all the inspiration and support!

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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 next  year ,with all my afternoon classes, at school!

As a girl-mom, I had to create some rationale for me to deal with the pain of teaching my “I-can’t-stand-grammar ” daughter. Yes, the pain is heartbreaking and real! Realizing this, I’ve come to the conclusion that my daughter and niece whom I both teach English at home, needed short, but potent grammar lessons where they’re able to explain, defend, and apply the skills.

I decided to use interactive notebooks to cater to and shape their learning experience a bit more.

Their  Interactive notebook,  helped keep their learning organized by having all concepts in the same place and in an sequence they could naturally follow.

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 pages for you to have a look at, get inspired and hopefully, start your own Grammar Notebooks, next school year!

PAST SIMPLE
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WILL

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REFLEXIVE/EMPHATIC PRONOUNS

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PRESENT PERFECT

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ORDER OF ADVERBS

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ADVERBS OF FREQUENCY

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COMPARISON OF ADJECTIVES/ADVERBS

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PLURALS

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ARTICLES (A/AN)

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IRREGULAR PLURALS

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TO BE

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PERSONAL PRONOUNS

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THIS/THAT/THESE/THOSE

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THERE IS/ARE

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POSSESSIVES

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TOO/ENOUGH

 

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TYPES OF COMPARISON

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TOO MUCH/MANY

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ORDINAL NUMBERS

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IMPERATIVE

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HAVE/HAS GOT

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PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE/CONTINUOUS

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BE GOING TO

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PRESENT CONTINUOUS

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FUTURE CONTINUOUS

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PRESENT SIMPLE/CONTINUOUS

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PREPOSITIONS OF PLACE

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THE -ING FORM

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USED TO

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POSSESSIVES

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BOTH/NEITHER/NONE/ALL

 

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ADVERBS OF FREQUENCY

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PREPOSITIONS OF PLACE

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WORD ORDER

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BE GOING TO-hopscotch

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HOW MUCH/MANY

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SOME/ANY

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LIKE

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WORD ORDER-QUESTIONS

 

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PAST SIMPLE-IRREGULAR VERBS

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PRESENT CONTINUOUS

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PLURALS

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PRESENT PERFECT

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PRESENT CONTINOUS

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FORMATION OF ADVERBS

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ORDER OF ADJECTIVES

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ORDER OF ADVERBS

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PAST SIMPLE/CONTINUOUS

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Whether our  child or students, need the added application, more hands-on grammar, or just a splash of fun, interactive notebooks have the ability to enhance and advance their language arts skills. My daughter , still not all that intrigued about grammar, has found a way to accept it more with her notebook!

 

 

Selfies – a cool start-of-the-school-year activity

I really love this activity and my students seem to love it as much as I do!!

The classroom collection of these student selfies make for a great bulletin board display!!

Cute selfies, on our classroom walls!!

Cute selfies, on our classroom walls!!

Using  templates ( there are so many of them on Pinterest, eg https://www.pinterest.com/pin/248401735675011808/ ) , students draw their selfie (self portrait) onto a smart phone template handout. They then select from the variety of text message (writing prompts) and answer questions for back to school, Halloween, New Year’s or end of the year. This year, I have  decided to ask them to choose from alternative back-to-school  text message  topics:

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  • What I DIDN’T DO this summer
  • A unique person I met this summer
  • My most memorable moment of the summer
  • One thing I learned this summer
  • The person I spent the most time with this summer
  • The best meal I ate this summer
  • Something educational I did this summer
  • Something I bought this summer
  • Something I made this summer

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Idea:To start with, you can use  a Power Point presentation with examples of “famous selfies” using artists like Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Through this fun slide show students will get to see a modern twist on self-portraits as they commonly call them selfies.

Use this lesson to assess your students fine motor skills, drawing skills, creativity and overall willingness to put effort into their work. You can tell a lot about a child by their artwork–especialy their self portraits (err, I mean selfies). Most of all have some fun and let your students show off their creativity to you, practicing their English, at the same time!

This lesson is not a formal drawing lesson, however it could easily be combined with one.

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School Sports Day activities-Teaching kids about the Olympic values.

Creative writing

We love creative writing in my class!

Every year, we spend one day in Greek schools, to teach students the Olympic values and principles !There is a different topic every year…This time, we dealt with with the meanings of the Olympic values.

To start with , I  decided to have a discussion about all the Olympic values in class , before I used certain activities to help kids put theory into practice!

Those meanings we talked about were:

-Friendship

. sympathy

. empathy

. honesty

.mutual understanding

. compassion

. trust

. positive reciprocity

Proud medal holders!

Proud medal holders!

We also mentioned the Meanings of the Paralympic values

-Determination

Believing in yourself to continue to do the best you can even if things are difficult.Making or arriving at a decision with purpose.

-Equality

Everyone can be equal and receive the same treatment. This is the quality of being the same in quantity or measure, value or status. Ensuring fairness, equal treatment, opportunities, regardless of religion or race. This should be without:

. discrimination

. prejudice

. bias

. inequality

.unfairness.

This is the link to the printables I used for some of the activities we did, later  : http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/themes/olympics/

First, we did some brainstorming about the Olympic ideals.

Brainstorming about the Olympic ideals

Brainstorming about the Olympic ideals

Later, we made medals with our favourite Olympic values words written  on them  , and had to wear them ,all day at school….!

Our medals!

Our medals!

With my older students, I decided to deal with storytelling and classroom theatre.

I used the ” Hare and the Tortoise”  Aesop  story, to investigate all serious issues: Justice, inequality, power, discrimination, censorship.

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We finally acted the story out in class and had much fun doing so!!

Time for a story!

Time for a story!

Sharing here, some more ideas about how to deal with the story with older students…..This is the list of tasks , I asked my 6th graders to choose from.

-Can you read / retell the original story of the Tortoise and the Hare?

-Retell the story from Hare’s point of view. Ask a friend to retell the story from Tortoise’s point of view. How are your

stories similar / different?

-Rewrite parts of the story in the form of a playscript (with stage directions).

-Think of captions for some of the illustrations in the book.

-Can you write your own retelling of the ‘Hare and the Tortoise’… or write an alternative version?

Writing stories , using our imagination ...

Writing stories , using our imagination …

I also thought, it would be nice to have my students do some creative writing , using their imagination and all the ideas and vocabulary,  we had talked about in class…Therefore, I handed them this worksheet as homework . Here are some awesome samples of their work !

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Some extra inspiring ideas  for this special day, I have found  on line:

-Read various books on the Olympics

-Have students write a poem about the Olympics

-Have students write a speech about winning the gold medal.

-If I were Olympic Athlete…

-Brainstorm ideas of what it takes to be an Olympic Athlete. Students list and illustrate the ideas.

-Put the sports names in ABC order.

-Write a news report.

-Take a picture of each students head. Have the student cut out their head and then draw the body of what sport they would like to compete in. Make sure they include an Olympic background behind their drawing. Below the drawing you could have student write about their time at the Olympics.

The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

This is also, our goal as educators , isn’t it ?

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