This blog is aimed at professionals who seek professional excellence and are tireless in learning more and more... Here you will find classroom management tips, teacher development issues and a myriad of class games and activities to enhance your lesson plan. Many thanks for your visit!!

sexta-feira, 30 de setembro de 2011

Expression of the week #9


Meaning: In difficulty, faced with a choice between two unsatisfactory options.
Example: I suddenly found myself caught between a rock and a hard place and didn't know what to do.
In Portuguese: estar entre a cruz e a espada.

Synonym: between the devil and the deep blue sea.

source: thefreedictionary.com

quinta-feira, 29 de setembro de 2011

The power of question for classroom management!

Dr. Maryellen Weimer, discusses the value of good questions to promote productive discussions. Below is an excerpt from her book Classroom Communication: Collected Readings for Effective Discussion and Questioning:
"To realize the potential of a good question, we can’t forget that the power of a question to promote thinking happens in the interstice between the question and the answer—in that quiet space between the asking and answering. Most of us are in such a hurry that that space is short—typically  less than 5 seconds, according to research."

5 seconds? It sounds like no time at all but for a teacher it can be the result of a smart decision, that is to say, the right question at the right moment. Seemingly casual questions can be a very powerful way of unobtrusively refocusing an off-task student. See below a technique showing how to use questions to refocus off-task students:

You gently approach one or more student but pay no attention to their
off-task behaviour. You simply ask a gently redirective question: ‘How’s it going? Do you need any help? etc; e.g  ‘Sylvia, do you need me to check how you’re doing so far?’  
You then leave the refocused student with an expectation of continued compliance:‘I’ll pop back in a minute and see how far you’ve got’

Very simple in theory but in practice it is not all plain sailing! Teachers tend to pay attention only to the disruptive behavior leading to a stressful classroom environment. As a teacher I can tell you it works marvels but it requires focus to your attitude and practice.What about trying it on your next lesson?

sábado, 24 de setembro de 2011

Expression of the week # 8

" Nobody wants to be a good-for-nothing"

This expression in Portuguese means "ser um zero a esquerda". It can be used as noun or adjective. See examples below:

Jane is a nice girl but I dislike that good-for-nothing brother of hers. (adjective)

Paul will never get a job. He is a good-for-nothing. (noun)

source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary.

quinta-feira, 22 de setembro de 2011

Digital Camera Hunt


This game may require students to leave the classroom depending on how you set it up, But I do suggest it be done outside the classroom. It can be used as warm-up or even as a transition activity to introduce new vocabulary but FUN IS A SURE THING IN THIS ACTIVITY!!!
Make a list of things students must take photos of. Then put your students into teams, each with their own camera (my students used their mobiles!) and have them go out and take the photos. The team that comes back first with all the photos is the winner. It is important to mention that they must not use Portuguese to get the things they need and reinforce that everything must be done outside the classroom. I also advise teachers to rafle the lists so that students do not complain about the difficulty level.
Some ideas for lists are:
  • someone angry, white car, pink eraser, pencil sharpener,  a living animal/insect
  • someone worried, silver car, yellow pair of scissors, stapler, a living animal/insect
  • someone wearing a blue t-shirt, red car, mechanic pencil, 15 paper clips, a living animal/insect.
If you happen to use this activity in your lesson, please post a comment so that other teachers feel more triggered to have a try!

quarta-feira, 21 de setembro de 2011

What do your pupils need to know about Pronunciation? + Cool Activity!!!

Pronunciation involves far more than individual sounds. Word stress, sentence stress, intonation, and word linking all influence the sound of spoken English, not to mention the way we often slur words and phrases together in casual speech. English pronunciation involves too many complexities for learners to strive for a complete elimination of accent, but improving pronunciation will boost self esteem, facilitate communication, and possibly lead to a better job or a least more respect in the workplace. Effective communication is of greatest importance, so choose first to work on problems that significantly hinder communication and let the rest go. Remember that your students also need to learn strategies for dealing with misunderstandings, since native pronunciation is for most an unrealistic goal. One nice activity to raise awareness of pronunciation  for high intermediate/advanced student is described below:

Objective: to raise students awareness about vowel sounds and practice them.
Procedures: write on separate pieces of paper the names below and distribute among your students. Tell them that for the time being, they have the name written on the paper and you are going to call out the roll call.

Jan Bird     Jan Baird
Jan Burt     Jan Beard
Jon Bird     Jon Baird
Jon Burt     Jon Beard
Jen Bird     Jen Baird
Jen Burt     Jen Beard

What problems might your students have with this activity? Why do you think they might have these problems? And what aspect of pronunciation does this activity target?

If you indicated that learners of English might have problems discriminating among many of these names, then you are correct. This may be an issue if students don’t share the same sound differences in their first language.

And if you indicated that this activity targets the pronunciation of individual sounds, especially vowels, then you are also correct. As this activity shows, ever so slight differences in sounds can completely alter what the student understands. Much of your work as a teacher with pronunciation will come from the fact that your students, in their experience with their native language(s), have acquired the skill of overlooking differences which they must pay attention to in the language you are teaching them. This activity can call your student's attention to pronunciation in a fun way and it can  provide you with the chance of showing them that what really matters in communication is how intelligeable you are!!!

Cunningham Florez, MaryAnn. "Improving Adult ESL Learners' Pronunciation Skills." December 1998. National Center for ESL Literacy Education. 22 Apr. 2004. <http://www.cal.org/ncle/digests/Pronun.htm>

segunda-feira, 19 de setembro de 2011

Expression of the week #7

Do you know how to say "Nascido em berço de ouro"? Well, here it goes: Born with a silver spoon in your mouth!!!

Definition by thefreedictionary.com: If you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you are born into a rich family.

source: Speaker Patrick Jackson at Oxford University Press meeting! Listening and learning!!!!

quinta-feira, 15 de setembro de 2011

15 Things to remember about Behavior Management

15 Things to remember about Behavior Management:
1) Praise the action or decision, not the child
2) Provide positive recognition when good choices are made
3) If what you are doing is not working, change what you are doing
4) Never give sanctions in anger
5) Don't ignore inappropriate behaviour
6) Only give consequences when you are sure of what happened
7) You can accept a child while not accepting inappropriate behaviour
8) Never threaten what you are not prepared to carry out
9) We never learn resilience without facing frustrations
10) Our expectations will often determine a child's behaviour
11) Be patient with childish irresponsibilities but never with defiance and rebellion
12) What children say about how they feel is not necessarily so
13) After consequences are given out treat the child as if nothing has happened
14) Be authoritative not authoritarian
15) Watch your emotions, children are good at reading body language
source: BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT POCKET BOOK. Hook, Peter & Vass, Andy
Link to book preview: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Behaviour-Management-Pocketbook-Teachers-Pocketbooks/dp/1903776597#reader_1903776597

terça-feira, 13 de setembro de 2011

Pass the rubber chicken activity!!! Super cool :)

This activity is great for warm-up or wrap-up stages:

1) Suggestion for warm up stage:
In this game, nobody wants to hold the rubber chicken -- the game's only prop! To begin the game, all students sit in a circle. Select one person to be It. That person holds the rubber chicken. The teacher or a "caller" says to the person holding the chicken, "Name five presidents of the United States. Pass the chicken!" As soon as the caller says, "Pass the chicken," the person holding the chicken passes it to the right. Students quickly pass the chicken around the circle. If it returns to the original holder before he or she can name five presidents of the United States, the holder is still It. Otherwise, the person holding the chicken when It finishes listing five presidents is the new It. You should prepare the topic cards for this game in advance. Topics can relate to your curriculum or be general information topics. The student who is It must name five items in the called-out category in order to get rid of the dreaded chicken!
Topics: fast-food restaurants, authors of children's books, countries in South America, vegetables, cartoon characters, musical groups, large bodies of water, animals found in salt marshes, English speaking countries, cities in the USA.

2) Suggestion for wrap up stage: Instead of using one of the suggested topics above, the teacher can ask the stutend holding the chicken to say  5 new words in the lesson, make 3 sentences using a particular structure, etc.

P.S: you may replace the rubber chicken for any other object!!! When I taught teens they loved the rubber chicken so badly that at the end of that term I had to raffle the poor rubber chicken as an award!!!

sábado, 10 de setembro de 2011

Expression of the week #6

BACK TO SQUARE ONE ( de volta a estaca zero)
if you are back to square one, you have to start working on a plan from the beginning because your previous attempt failed and the progress you made is now wasted We thought everything was settled, but now they say they're not happy with the deal, so we're back to square one again.

source: thefreeonlinedictionary.com

sexta-feira, 9 de setembro de 2011

Do you teach or do you educate?

After watching this video I feel so much glad to be called an educator. What about you? Do you teach or do you educate?


Reflect on it, because it has been food for thought for centuries..."Education is not the filling of a vessel, but the kindling of a flame." - Socrates

quinta-feira, 8 de setembro de 2011

Fun classes with a simple DECK OF CARDS!!!

Using a simple deck of cards and your imagination you can have really FUN classes. Check these two ideas below:

1) For arranging groups:
Using a standard deck of cards can offer a variety of grouping styles. Each student is given a card off the top of the deck and then they are informed to find all four suits of their card. So if someone had a seven there would be a grouping of four. The group would consist of the 7 of hearts, 7 of diamonds, 7 of clubs and the 7 of spades. If you wanted pairs formed, students would find the same color of their card. For example a student with a 2 of hearts would look for the student with the 2 of diamonds.

2) For oral/ writing activities:
For this activity you will need a deck of cards, and an imaginative theme that could be crafted into some sort of story. For example, I choose "send the teacher on a vacation". On the board or i-board make a list like the following. (You could ask your student for input.)
  • A-exciting
  • 2-depressing
  • 3-expensive
  • 4-heroic
  • 5-romantic
  • 6-fantastic
  • 7-sad
  • 8-almost fatal
  • 9-cheap
  • 10-dramatic
  • J-happy
  • Q-wierd
  • K-change one option
To get students started; perhaps offer a beginning to the story. They then must continue making an oral story by drawing one card and continuing the story along those lines. For example, if they get 4, then the teacher/protagonist must do something heroic or some kind of heroric event must occur. If the students draw a K (or whatever card you stipulate), then they can change one option. This seems to help keep the momentum in the game. Continue through all cards, with the stipulation that the story must be concluded by the end of the deck. Obviously there is a lot of room for variation here. Your word list and theme could be related to your unit of study. As a follow-up or homework activity, you can ask students to write about the most interenting event.

for more ideas go to: http://iteslj.org/c/games7.html

segunda-feira, 5 de setembro de 2011

Rabbit Hole - Cool technique for grouping students!!!

Creating and maintaining classroom interaction is something that every teacher wants and needs to have.

Grouping student is one of the simplest ways to change the dynamics of the classroom. The technique called the RABBIT HOLE is an excellent dynamic for forming trios.

Procedure: Ask everybody in the classroom to stand up and then make them walk around in the classroom always getting mixed with the rest of the students (It´s necessary to make sure nobody is following a student in particular since the main purpose of this is activity is to get students who don´t use to work together into the same trio) then, when the teacher shouts "RABBIT HOLE!" two students have to grab each other by the hands and then get a third student into the rabbit hole which is formed by themselves. Once the trios are formed the teacher can assign the task to be completed.

sexta-feira, 2 de setembro de 2011

Expression of the week #5

Fat hangover, cramp your style, clique...ficar empanturrado, queimar o filme, panelinha e muito mais nas dicas de expressões semanais! If you still didn't check the others (# 1,2,3 and 4) ...go for it!

LAST STRAW: a gota d'agua
The last of a series of annoyances or disappointments that leads one to a final loss of patience, temper, trust, or hope.
E.g.: It was the third time Johnny hadn’t done his homework, so the teacher lost her temper and said, “That’s the last straw! I’m going to call your mother!” – Era a terceira vez que Johnny não fazia a tarefa, então o professor perdeu a paciência e disse, “É a gota d’água! Vou ligar para sua mãe!”

quinta-feira, 1 de setembro de 2011

Classroom discipline - Catch them being good technique!!!!

"Johnny loves negative attention. I know he does those things to get me upset and make the class laugh. His classmates think he's cute when he does something to distract me from the lesson and I have to call him on it."

Sound familiar? Some children are disruptive because of the attention their disruption receives, whether the attention is from you or from other classmates.

Teachers must realize that disruptive behaviors do not go away by magic. There is an appropriate saying for teachers who do not want to entertain any new techniques to overcome disruptive behavior: "If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting!" So, let's get down to work...below you will find a succeccful  technique for managing disrruptive behaviour

Steps of the Catch Them Being Good Technique

1) Identify instances of disruptive behaviors.

2) Identify instances of nondisruptive and appropriate classroom behaviors.

3) Implement the beeper system (explained below) at the start of each class period. When the beeper sounds, praise a number of students (including the children who are the focus of your concern) if they are not engaged in disruptive behavior.

4) When a child is disruptive, ignore the disruptive behavior (unless the nature of the behavior cannot be ignored).

5) At the same time you are ignoring a child's disruptive behavior, direct your attention to others who are being appropriate and praise children who are adjacent to the target child for their appropriate behavior.

6) If a child is engaged in severely disruptive behavior, remove him or her to a time-out area for a short period of time. The first step in implementing this technique is to identify the types of behavior that are disruptive. These are the behaviors you will ignore. Also, at this time, identify those disruptive behaviors that cannot be ignored (e.g., aggression, loud and violent tantrums, etc.). Try to keep this list short.

7) The beeper system involves the presentation of audible beeps at random intervals within a class period. Each beep cues you to scan the class and praise appropriate classroom behavior.This technique provides a certain number of opportunities for children in the class to earn praise. The beeper system works best when a timer is used to present beeps at random intervals for designated periods of time (e.g., 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, etc.). It will all depend on how frequent the disruptive behavior happens.

8) When the beep sounds, you scan the class and praise the children of concern if they are not engaged in disruptive behavior at that time. You can praise other children for nondisruptive classroom behavior at the same time. You may also want to implement a point system whereby points are given to students who are not engaged in disruptive behavior.

When an individual child is being disruptive, withhold your attention from that child. Instead, praise the appropriate behavior of children who are adjacent to the child. For example, "I like the way Johnny and Susan are doing their work. Ashley, you are sitting so nicely." Notice that your attention is diverted to behavior that is appropriate and not to the specific incident of disruptive behavior.

After this initial "learning period" there may actually be no more time invested in dealing with disruptive situations than was invested previously. Very often, using this positive strategy merely requires a shift in teacher attention: There will be drastically decreased amounts of attention paid to disruptive behavior balanced by increased amounts of attention paid to nondisruptive behavior. Also, as a child's behavior improves, the need for praise becomes less frequent, thus allowing more time for other teaching duties.

Finally, praise for appropriate behavior makes school more fun for the children and motivates them to learn. Consider using healthy doses of praise as a good investment in a child's future in school.

Source: Classrooms that SPARK! Emma S. McDonald and Dyan M. Hershman. 2010