I am a class teacher for Year Four and five students and a team leader for the middle school. My class and I are a part of the Manaiakalani Google ClassOnAir.


Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Matariki

For the last two weeks we in Room 6 have been learning about Matariki. It was a great experience as students got very creative when sharing their ideas. They did role plays, made books and posters. I gave them a real experience of celebrating Matariki in class where they got involved in weaving, dancing, cooking, singing, planting and kite making. We had to read books and view lots of videos to understand the true spirit of celebrating Matariki. We surveyed people and Maori students from our school to find out more about Matariki. In the end we came to the conclusion that Matariki was kind of a dying festival where not many Maori celebrate it any more. We were concerned and so wrote to the Prime Minister. Below are a few recordings of the lesson.
You can view the lessons and the lesson plans by clicking here and Here





I was very pleased with the outcome of the lesson. Children had real audience and a real reason to work on. They were very eager to survey the members of the public and students in school to find out if people living in New Zealand were aware of the Maori New Year. They were a bit upset with their findings. They found out that a large percentage of people did not know much about Matariki and a lot of Maori people did not celebrate Matariki. After the debate they questioned themselves and their classmates and came to the decision that they needed to do something to revive the festival. They came up with different ideas and also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister and requested to declare Matariki a public holiday. I was very happy at the end of the lesson as it provided lots of opportunities to talk and write about the topic. I was particularly impressed on how some students in the debating group could talk at length to convey their ideas clearly and how some children were very prompt to defend their opinion. There was lot of critical thinking, argumentation and language learning in real context! 

Monday, 4 June 2018

Learning new words through Topic studies

This term we have been learning about space. I have made a very deliberate effort to choose texts and transcripts that have language which is cutting edge for the students ( neither too hard nor too easy). This means they come across lots of new words and phrases when reading listening or viewing texts. It has now become a regular practice for them to notice these new words and write them down for future references.
So each child has their own vocabulary book in which they write down all the new words learnt during reading or researching time. They use words from the vocabulary book when writing their stories. Till now we have had more than 100+ plus word in our book.
I have to make sure I provide more and more opportunities where students can use these words as many times as possible so they become a part of their everyday use.








Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Developing subject related vocabulary



At our CoLs meeting it was reiterated several times by Jannie, Anne and Aaron that 
We teachers are very good at extracting and asking students what they know about a topic, but do we also give enough so children can produce cutting edge information? One of our jobs is also to lift and feed students with information so we can make them cognitive thinkers who can talk about their learning.
I took this idea back to my class. This Term the topic of our study is space.
The most urgent need for my students was to stretch their language and this would require effortful, purposeful and engaging tasks.

I used a you tube video that not only had lots of information but challenging, purposeful language that would extend my student's vocabulary. We watched the video in parts and had a lot of discussion around new words and phrases. 
My students struggled to form complete sentences when they tried to use the new words to deliver information verbally. We practiced and finally we were able to frame good sentences.

I also used a transcript of the video as a reading text. 

Reflection
Students need to listen, speak read and write the new words a number of times before they can begin to use them in their spoken and written language. This requires very thoughtful planning, firstly to resource students and designing tasks that will provide an opportunity to use their new knowledge and vocabulary in different contexts.


Here are a few examples of writing produced by some of the students.

The sun is the biggest object in the solar system.It has
a massive magnetic field and extensive gravitational pull
which holds the Earth and the other planets to make our
solar system.It is many times wider than
Earth and the sun is the star that
is many times closer to us.The sun
can fit more than 1,0000 planets
in the sun.The sun is a burning ball
of gas mostly hydrogen and helium.
If the sun wasn’t here there would be
no light no heat, plants would not grow and the days would grow colder.

By Dyzon

The Sun is the biggest object in the Solar System.
It has a massive field and extensive Gravitational Pull which holds the Earth and the other Planets to make the  Solar Systems.
It is many times wider than Earth and the Sun is the star many time closer to us.
The Sun can fit more Then 100,00 Planet’s in the sun is a Burning ball of gas.
By - Fine







Sunday, 27 May 2018

Manaiakalani Class On Air lesson # 5

I teach in a school that is situated in low socio economic community. Some students who start school come with an oral language of a three year old. This creates a big gap between them and the students who come form affluent backgrounds. Language acquisition is one of the major concerns for our community. 
This year I have been exposing my students to texts that are abundant in language and have trained them to notice words and word groups that make a text captivating.  Students understand and learn meanings of these new words and then try and use the new words and word groups to tell the story in their own language. Through this lesson I have tried to show the process of how we do this in our class.




Click here to watch the complete episode on Manaiakalani Google Class on Air.

Friday, 18 May 2018

The News Board

In the beginning of the term I bought a big white board from the warehouse and placed it in the corner of my room for students to write what they wanted to share with the class. I modelled for them by sharing my story. It was exciting! everyone wanted to read what I had to say. All I was trying to achieve was to have them write for real audience. Slowly students started taking turns to write any story they wanted to share.
With time, the white board has become very popular. Everyone wants to say something! The focus is still on using clever chunks and delightful words, new vocabulary, phrases and the effort is on how we can write ideas in a better way so that our audience gets lots of information about our news.
When there is news item on the board, students look for describing words and circle them using with another coloured pen. It has turned into a kind of a competition. They have created their own rule to decide which story is the best. The rule is - the story with most describing words is the best. I don't know how this works and I sometimes feel that I need to shift their focus from just describing words to other aspects of good writing too, but I do not want to kill the enthusiasm by having too many technical details.
The part that excites me the most is when students feedback each other and suggest words that could be used to make the story sound better. This involves a lot of editing and crafting. It is also helping in developing a culture where children are readily beginning to provide feedback to their peers on our writing topics. The most challenging subject is beginning to become fun in my class.








Monday, 14 May 2018

The Book is still there

This was a follow up conversation that my students had with me after we made a book on Easter.
Just to remind, my big idea was to let students understand the purpose of writing. We had all agreed that writing is an important skill as it helps us communicate our ideas with the rest of the world. So now our big book on Easter was not published and it seemed no good to the students as it would never reach people out in the world.

To pull them out of this notion, I shared a fabric book with them. This was a book made by a mother who is now a great grandmother. She created this book for her children when she was a young mother and it has since been passed on in the family to her grand children and great grand children. The book teaches simple skills like learning numbers, shapes, alphabet and tying shoelaces and is still in use. Here is a picture of the fabric book!


A little peek into the book would take you through some of it's contents.




This was such a great example of explaining my students that a book really does not need to be published to be called a book. The book is still there...

Thanks to Jannie for sharing the book

Click the link below to have a look at what one of my students has said after looking at a fabric book.







Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Noticing what makes good writing

 Lately, I have been focusing on two teaching aspects.
  • Direct students to notice clever chunks and words in texts. 
  • Use these clever chunks to narrate their stories.
It is important for students to notice how texts are crafted for impact. My students read texts but did not notice the new words and vocabulary in texts. They asked for it's meaning but did not really use the new words in multiple contexts. I wanted them to use these words and phrases over and over again so that they become a part of their repertoire. Also, my children needed to understand why we need to learn to write. When asked this question, they completely missed the point and said things like - "To make sure that our story makes sense".  
This is not the reason why we write stories... Writing is a skill that helps us to share our stories with the wider world, much wider than we can share through verbal communications.

Jannie Van Hees our CoL facilitator,  gave me this beautiful idea of how to make students notice the use newly words and phrases in text and then create an opportunity for them to recycle these words.
For this I used the Easter story because when I enquired what students knew about Easter, I found out that not many knew why we had Easter. Out of the whole class only 3 students had gone to the church and had some story to share. Two students had easter chocolate eggs and others had chocolate in some form or the other. I felt a bit disappointed that most children had not celebrated Easter in it's true spirit. This led me to talk to them about Easter and know the true purpose behind it. We needed to have our audience and we chose our younger siblings, who did not know the story of Easter.

I used this read aloud video from you tube to introduce the story.




I then printed out each page and distributed parts of texts for student to read. Their task was for them to identify clever chunks (Phrases) in the part of the text they got to read. I modelled this for them.
We also talked in detail about why clever chunks were important part in writing. At this stage children were just having a go at finding chunks and sometimes they would give me a difficult word - for e.g. 'astonished'. I made a separate list of these words to go on the wall as I wanted them to use new words as well. We then we made a list of all the new words.





Next I cut the text and gave away parts of the text to all the children in the class. They had to order the story in a sequence. I did not help them at all with this task. Students read and re- read to find the right place to fit their text in and this gave them opportunity to read their and other's texts a number of times. The activity definitely provided space for them to gain fluency in reading. Even the slow monotonous readers could read some pages fluently. Exciting!!!
Here is a picture of children arranging text in sequence. It took a long time, but it was worth it. 



Next students wrote parts of the story in heterogenous groups and collated it to make a big book for younger students to read.

Reflections
I enjoyed  the lesson and the children were motivated and engaged. I could maintain a good balance as the lesson was spread over three days. Children did not feel bored of repetition and the tasks were not tedious at all. They were just right (in the Zone of proximal Development). The most important aspect was vocabulary and I was thrilled to see that they recycled it and used it in their writings. They could also hold a sequence of their ideas in their head to make a simple paragraph. I am glad I was able to scaffold the story in a metacognitive way to make children understand why we write.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Col Meeting 3

What school level practice made a difference to the children that will make them employment ready?
PISA report shows that New Zealand is moving one point down each year. What challenge we have as teachers?








Dr. Jannie Van Hees talked about Language in abundance - There is an astounding capacity for children to learn, while they may be disadvantaged but that should not hold them back. Language is the elevated tool that allows us to make meaning to life. This rightly suggests that language is the tool that we as teachers should be focussing on. 
What is it about getting children to talk.
We need to have rich pickings in the way we speak and write. Bring much richer concepts and ideas.  to heighten the language acquisition positions of children.

We teachers are very good at extracting and asking students what they know about their ideas, but are we also giving enough so children can produce cutting edge information? One of our jobs is also to lift and feed students so we can make them cognitive thinkers who can talk about their learning
I need as a learner to receive -  extracting children's ideas. but from a cognitive point of view - connect new learning. we have to make available potential learning to happen. our job is also gifting and feeding children.


What will I put my lens on?

1. Optimising learning and interactional conditions

2. Elaborative style pedagogical responses.

3. Scaffolding learners to become effective Conversationalists.

4. Plan, Prepare and providing

Flourishing learning potential these are the things that Jannie mentioned -
Attention to and noticing, effortful and purposeful engagement and interaction, engage in participation, triggering from known to the new, streching learner's current language, multiple encounters, context relevant, facilitating through engaging mediating tools, high expectations
(Teaching in Goldilock's zone) 

One of Jannie's ideas was to make a poster and talk about the given items to the students.
The poster/ rules will be -
  • Focus and notice
  • Put in effort
  • Take part fully
  • Push yourself to the edge
  • Dig deep for what you already know
  • Learn from others - Notice and focus
  • You share and others gain from you
  • Think and talk, think and read
  • Wandering and asking opens up possibilities to know
Aaron from Auckland University talked about how we should keep a good record of our sightings, experiences shifts and student voice. Teachers who do inquiry need to keep a regular documentation of the changes that show how children are improving in the area of inquiry. 


Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Developing Mathematical Inquiry Community (DMIC)

Today we had a PLD on Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities.

Why we need to develop mathematical inquiry communities?

Only 26% of Maori students and 11% of the Pasifika students are achieving at Curriculum standards at year 8. Yet a high proportion of teachers indicated they felt confident in their teaching and that they are able to engage and meet the needs of their students.
Set our mindset out of the closed stages.

Exploring and challenging our beliefs, values, pedagogy and practices. 
Our beliefs about our students can affect our
  • Perception of students status
  • expectations of students
  • teaching practices and decisions
  • learning opportunities we provide
Does streaming in schools help?
Hattie says " we have more streaming than any other country in the world", we also have on e of the widest gaps between those who do well in our schools and those who do worst. The Pisa results worldwide suggest countries that stream less do better overall.
Streaming predetermines children's performance, removing challanges they might have faced in a class of mixed ability, foreclosing the possibility they might be a late improver, permanently lowering, or raising, their confidence in themselves.
Nothing boosts a child's confidence, or lowers it, more than educational comparisons with their peers.

What is DMIC?
  • Culturally responsive teaching and learning
  • Inquiry learning
  • Developing rich mathematical reasoning ad thinking
  • Proficient use of mathematical practices
  • Social groupings and group worthy problematic activity.
  • High ecpectations
  • co- constructing teaching and learning.
What are mathematical practices?
They are the specific things that successful mathematic leaners do? These could be-
  • Unpacking the problem?
  • Applying the strategies to solve problems that may not necessarily be a maths problem.
  • Making connections with their everyday life
  • Being able to articulate what they understand.
  • Using mathematical language
  • Making a claim
  • Developing a mathematical explanation
  • Justifying thinking
  • constructing arguments
  • Generalisiing a mathematica idea
  • Representing mathematical thinking using pictures, material and numbers.

Friday, 6 April 2018

My Inquiry at the End of Term 1

At the end of term one, as I was sifting through my inquiry, I made notes of the major changes/ inputs that I have made this term to improve writing of my students. So what  have been the major focuses-

1. Vocabulary - I introduced new vocabulary every time we wrote. This was very carefully built on the existing knowledge of the children so it they could hold on to their new learning. This vocabulary is carefully chosen so that it is on the edge which will enhance their language potential.

2. Moving away from WALTs - I no longer talk about WALTs and Success criteria as these push children to focus only on one aspect of Writing. Instead I have started using a check list that guides students to make sure that they have followed the norms of writing.

3. Supporting children to use newly learnt words in various contexts - I do this by reminding, reiterating and encouraging them to use new words in their oral and written language.

4. Oral Paragraphs - Encouraging children to talk about things, situations and topic in detail. this has helped in moving them away from single word or a simple sentence descriptions to meatly, juices detailed explanations and descriptions. This has also helped in developing paragraph capability where they are required to express well developed ideas.

5. A clear understanding of topics that drives the expression of language - I develop field knowledge and talk about the real purpose of writing and who the audience would be. This encourages children to write in detail about a given topic.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Manaiakalani Google Class on Air - Episode 4

Some of my students give me one word answers and it is really hard for anyone to understand them. This is mainly because they do not have the words to explain what they want to say. I wanted them to be really aware of this shortfall so they realise how important it is for them to learn new words everyday and to also to use these words in different contexts till it is part of their repertoire.



At the end of the lesson, children did realise that they needed to use specific words to say tell their story.


Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Manaiakalani Google Class On Air - Episode 3




View the complete lesson here


Reflection

Lesson Content :- Students were very engaged and learnt new words quickly. They tried to use these words in their oral paragraphs and helped each other to use them when needed. More support is required as students need to continue to form oral paragraphs on a daily basis in order to learn and use new words. 
Lesson Pacing :- I have used oral paragraphs for the first time so the pacing was not great but will improve as we work more on them.
Lesson Delivery :- This session was a part of the whole lesson where students were learning to use specific words to orally tell their stories. Three students out of the group of five achieved this where as the other two still need support.
Student Understanding :- Students understood what was being asked to do. They were very motivated to write their stories using new words. Most students understood the purpose of the lesson. Their understanding will improve as I continue to plan for more such lessons on writing where deliberate opportunities are provided to create oral paragraphs.
Student Outcomes :- Students understood what was expected and were ready to give it a go. My students need a lot more time to orally say out things that they need to write. I also need to work on strategies to not make it tedious or maybe split the lesson into more comprehensible shorter lessons.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

CoL Meeting 2

The slide show below summarises what I think I need to do to move my inquiry forward.


Friday, 23 March 2018

Do Learning Intentions isolate the writing Process?

The more I delve into my inquiry, the more I feel that we need to change our approach on the way we teach writing. I feel we are stuck too much with the teaching of the conventions of writing rather than making it a joyous task where the students feel intrinsically motivated to write. 

Last week talking to Jannie Van Hees confirmed my notion. Jannie modelled for me in my class. It was great to watch her and notice her not using any learning intention but using talk and lots of talk  to develop vocabulary. She provided multiple opportunities for students to interact with one another in a non threatening, purposeful and enriching ways. The students dominated the talk and  then wrote some good meaningful sentences about the topic. They were motivated and engaged and they also learnt new words to convey their ideas.


Learning Intentions isolate the whole process of writing. We get stuck in teaching capital letters or full stops or inserting describing words or adding detail. It is more important for students to understand that there is a purpose for writing and that is conveying their ideas and their thoughts to people who do not know about the topic you are writing on.  It is a way of communication and it needs to be clear and meaningful, just like talking needs to be meaningful for the listener to understand. What I mean is that the focus should shift from just putting full stops in the correct places to creating a captivating piece of writing. Things like punctuation can be subtly taught and reminded of during the process of writing.


The other question that arises is... 

Do our students understand some of the learning intentions? For example - WALT write in detail? what does this mean to them? I explored a lot over this learning intention for the past few weeks and found out that my children actually do not know what they need to do when they have to write in detail. They started giving me recounts that were three pages long, as they thought that detail meant a long piece of writing. They were super boring to read as they lacked the purpose. There was no soul or depth to their writing. They were monotonous and reading and analysing them was painful. How come one after another, each sample was just a narration of sequence of activities that they had experienced? 

So the question that arose was 

What is it that we are not doing?

I feel we are not providing opportunities for the development of spoken forms of language as a bridge to more academic language. For this to happen we need to look at the quality of dialogue that children are engaged in. 

They need to be pushed to produce more comprehendible, coherent and grammatically improved discourses. And all this needs to be done without making it a tedious activity.

How will I do this?

I will be choosing interesting authentic topics for students to write everyday. I would be focussing a lot on language output. This would be done by extending them from the known to the new. My class would be a communicative class where students would be encouraged to process the language and deliver it in a more comprehendible way. I would be making more stronger links to reading, talking and writing.
In doing so, I know I will need to be more prepared by mindfully going through my teaching process before I actually teach my students. I will need to do this a number of times till it is kind of fossilised into my practice. It is work but it is exciting!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

COA - Teaching Pepeha

This week I taught my class to say their Pepeha. The lesson was deliberately chosen as a reading activity to link with the topic studies. Through this lesson students were encouraged to critically think about place they live in and what connection they have with the natural landmarks around the community.

I used a matching word activity to help my students  learn the Maori words that they needed to say their Pepeha.






View the complete lesson on by clicking here

My Reflections


What went well.

Lesson Content :- Students had to learn to write their Pepeha and then rehearse saying it confidently and clearly. They understood what natural landmarks are and what significance they have in people’s lives.
Lesson Pacing :- The pace of the lesson was good as they had already learnt a bit about pepeha. However understanding the connection between the land and the people was a bit difficult for students.
Lesson Delivery :- This session was a part of the whole lesson where students learnt about the iwi, hapu, waka, mounga and moana ( extended family, close family, their canoe, their mountain and their sea). In this lesson students had to identify the natural landmarks around the community they lived in and why they were important to them and I was able to help them understand it.
Student Understanding :- Students could talk about the natural landmarks and their significance really well. I was very impressed the way they had picked up on the maori words to explain their understanding. The side activity ( Matching activity) helped students to learn maori words quickly and easily.
Student Outcomes :- Students understood the significance of a pepeha and could include the elements required in a pepeha.They rehearsed and could narrate their pepeha meaningfully.


What still needs work.
Student Outcomes :- My students need a lot more time to orally say out things that they need to write. Having to work with them individually over and over again to make them understand the difference between formal and informal occasions was like a signal to me that children need to use the vocabulary a number of times in meaningful contexts before they are ready to write. I will continue to allow more time to my students to have a go at using new vocabulary.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

How much support is good support?

Image result for cartoon of a child talking



This week I was teaching my target students to write on a topic and as usual, because these children are not great at forming correct sentences, I decided to give them sentence starters. Once we had our ideas in our mind, we tried to put them into sentences. I asked them to say them out loud using the sentence starters.
Each time they said the sentence aloud, they changed the beginning of the sentence. However they were very close to conveying the idea.

Can sentence starters sometimes act like crutches for children?

I feel they do. Sentence starters are perfect for children who have very limited English. By this I mean the ones who have not know simple structures to express themselves. Once the students begin to understand the semantic, syntactic and graphophonic systems, it is time to remove the crutches and let students give a go.

This is exactly what I noticed when teaching this group of students. Three of them in the group were wanting to get off the leash and discover, explore and experiment for themselves. They could not follow the beginnings of the sentence starters as they were now equipped with language that provided them more options to change the beginnings of the sentences. If they were asked to used the specific framework, they focussed more on remembering the words that they needed to say rather than  creating a sensible sentence to convey their ideas.

I am excited about it and can see the visible difference that has happened in the learning of my students.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

From Speaking to Writing in the Classroom.

Teaching Writing...

For ages we have been trying to improve writing of our students. I have a good bunch of students in my class who are not able to string sentences together and this is what I have noticed about them.

1. Not knowing the purpose of writing
Not knowing why we write? When I asked my students why is it important to write? They said - To make sure that writing makes sense...etc. This is not the purpose. The purpose could be something like - to convey something that others might not know or to tell the story that is in our mind.
What can I do?
Clarify with my students why it is important to learn to write. They need to understand that writing is a skill that is necessary to lead a quality life. Just like being able to read and calculate problems is important for our daily lives, writing is too. I will try and create a passion for writing by hooking them on to something interesting, making it fun and not make it a tedious task.
2. Dearth of words to tell their story.

Children who do not share their ideas in class is not because they do not want to, or do not have any experiences to share. Most of the time they do not have the words to narrate their story. So they are often misjudged as the ones who do not know much.

What Can I do?
To start with, I will encourage them to talk even if they are speaking in grammatically incorrect sentences.  I will praise them till they are confident to share what they have to say. I will not choose to correct them in the beginning, as they might feel judged and then withdraw.
I will also make sure that my program has space for concrete experiences that help make language comprehendible and not miss on the important role of teacher - student talk to support children's learning and language development.

3. Not having recycled new words in meaningful contexts.


 If they have learnt new words in the past, then they most probably did not have enough opportunities to use those words several times till it was ingrained in their language so much so that it came out fluently when they choose to speak in different contexts.

What Can I do?
As a teacher of these students I will be making deliberate attempts to create opportunities for them to use their new words in meaningful contexts till they gain automaticity through practice and repetition. This means having to talk about things and situations in meaningful contexts. I will introduce new language when students have gained some key concepts through small group work, so that new language is readily comprehendible. If I choose to teach them new language straight away, it might become an overload.

 So for the next few weeks I will be building on their existing understanding of language and to link old learning with new.




Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Raising Achievement in Writing

We have been trying to raise the achievement of our students in writing for ages.  We have our WALTs and we look thoroughly into our e- asTTle results, we analyse them and choose our goals for the year and teach our children the whole thing all over again. But has it made any difference?
After years of slogging we still are trying very hard to make a difference to the writing of our students.
This is why I choose to have writing as my objective for this year. I want to try and see what could I do differently so that it shows results.
At Manaiakalani  CoL introduction meeting, Jannie Van Hees was the guest speaker. I was very much impressed by what she said. All that she said was not what I have heard for the first time. I have known this for ages, since I did my TESOL diploma. I have done it over the years and feel that I integrate my topics well into each curriculum area. So what is it that I may have missed and have not yet ingrained into my practice?
This weekend I will be going through my two very favourite books by Pauline Gibbons.




Saturday, 24 February 2018

COA - Lesson 1- Providing Comfortable Learning Environment

In my last blog I had set some goals for myself the first one was to ' provide a comfortable learning environment for my students.'
I had noticed that students in my class did not speak and were very shy to share their ideas in front of the class or within groups. I have very few fluent speakers of English Language and most of the students have English as their second language.
Proficiency in spoken language is essential for language development. It is very important that students are immersed in Language at all times in the class. 
In my class most students are receptors of language and not really the users of language, where they involve themselves in interactions with peers or adults.

So foremost, I needed to create opportunities for my students who could interact without being scared of loosing their self esteem. I noticed that some of my students did not gather the courage to speak because they spoke in phrases, words or grammatically incorrect sentences. If I started to correct them and point out to their incorrect English, it would further diminish their esteem. So I decided to pick up a lesson where they would be forced to speak.


View the video below to see how I started the lesson.




After introducing myself,  I asked students to introduce themselves. They had to do this by sharing something about their culture. I put them into ethnic groups. Since they did not know much on the top of their head, we researched. Then I went to each group and inquired about about what they had researched.


' There is considerable evidence to suggest that a major factor in academic success of linguistic minority groups is the degree to which learning takes place in an interactive rather than a passive environment'. ( Skutnabb-Kangas & Cummins 1988).

By leaving the onus of talking about their culture to them,  the ball was in their court and they had to explain me about themselves. This forced them to talk- even if it was in broken English. One of the major outcomes was that everyone felt valued and the ice was broken. Children now engaged in meaningful context. It allowed them to think and formulate ideas. I encouraged them to speak in their own language when they wanted to clarify ideas. They became very enthused and excited when sharing food/ items from their culture. There was a sense of pride and they felt respected. They became more and more less conscious about not having specific words to explain their artefact and their confidence to share shot up immensely. I gave them lots of positive feedback and they were totally engaged in their learning.


Watch the video below to see them interact.




The next task was to write their introduction to share with the class. For my less able students, I provided sentence starters so support them with their writing.

My Reflection


The purpose of the Lesson

The purpose of this lesson was to encourage students to talk and share ideas.
Lesson content
I deliberately chose this lesson as I wanted to begin with something that they already knew and could talk about. The Task was to introduce themselves with a brief description about their country and an artefact from their culture.  This worked well as all students who had common experiences in terms of their culture supported one another to add detail to describe things from their culture. The sentence starters provided  helped them to write their introductions with greater ease. Me modelling and the video on their class site also gave them an idea of what was expected from the lesson. 

Mixed ability grouping
 I chose to pick one fluent speaker in the group. This allowed the others to listen to the vocabulary that they needed to explain similar ideas from their culture.

Lesson pacing
I gave lots of time to students to tell their stories about their culture.The main idea was to give them opportunity to express themselves.  They did this endlessly and the excitement grew every minute. They wanted to tell me everything about themselves.

Student Engagement and Confidence
Students were engaged throughout the lesson right from the word go. In my introduction video you will see that most students got hooked right from the beginning. They wanted to know more about me. This set the tone and we were at the initial stages of building relationships with each other.  The confidence level of students was raised immensely through this lesson. I believe I have build good rapport with my students and I hope they will discuss and ask question when they get stuck in future. The purpose of the lesson was accomplished amazingly. 

Student outcome 
Students first wrote their introduction and then introduced themselves to the class. They were scared in the beginning and asked if they could use read from the script  when speaking to the class.
I am very proud of my students who learnt a lot about explanation through this lesson. They used some specific vocabulary and heaps of describing words when talking about their artefact or food from their country. Even the ones who were not active participants, said something little.  The collaboration was huge when students discussed with each other to make things clearer for me to understand. They became more engaged as I encouraged them to use their own language to describe things. When describing their artefact/food students could feel the  attention and respect that they received from their audience and this became quiet contagious by the end of the lesson. As they spoke, they also shared some stories that they remembered when talking about an item, food or artefact. Both me and my students enjoyed this lesson.  This was the first step towards  building strong relationships with my students and also among students.

Next Steps
Since the goal this year for Manaiakalani CoLs is on language acquisition and my TESSOL study is a lot about how we can teach language to our ELL ( English Language Learners), I will be focussing more on oral language and plan for lessons that will be more creative, enjoyable and the ones that can connect students to their experiences. 
This lesson also gave me an insight into what limitations my students had in terms of language. They were every excited to tell me all about their culture but fell short of words except for one fluent speaker. It is now for me to plan to improve their vocabulary so they become confident when socialising and sharing their ideas. I also need to find ways to engage some of my shy students who were wanting to participate  but could not gather the courage to engage in the conversation. 

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