Monday, March 11, 2013

What I have learned from NECTFL conference

The Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages was held in Baltimore from March.7 to 10. I have attended the conference in my student rate. And I would like to share my experience and what I have learned from the conference.

The first impressive session I went is a Mead Fellow Session: Teacher Training Program for Teaching Chinese as a Second Language. Actually its targeted audience is higher education teachers. But I also benefited from this session from his culture shock part. The presenter illustrated the differences between Chinese classrooms and American ones from the aspects of school law, privacy, sensitivity, instructional changes, etc. 

The second session is The Zen of Content-Based Language Teaching. I did not get any idea before I got to the session. What is Zen? What! Students could understand Zen before they have a higher proficiency of Chinese? Ms. Lin told me that it is totally a success. They knew that. They can learn Zen and they felt the classroom environment is really relaxing. What is Zen? Zen is eating, sleeping, washing dishes, wearing cloth. Zen is everything. Also, there are many activities that the teacher uses in her classroom. I wanna explain two of them. The first is creating Chinese Haiku by students. Here are requirements for Chinese Haiku: three lines; rhyme is not necessary; not limited to the number of words; express Zen spirit. Ms. Lin also gave us some examples from their students' free style Chinese Haiku.
1. 你让泡绑你

2. 找不到宝贝

3. 如果你要成佛

4. 安心后

5. 我见山,是山

6. 不说也是说,不做也是做

The second one I wanna share is skit. It is an interesting part for college students. Ms. Lin asked students to record their video outside the classroom and show the video in the classroom.

Another session I would like to share is Integrating 21st Century Skills into Standard-based Chinese. As a graduate student now, I know standard-based, which is 5Cs. But I never know 21st century skills. They are Life and Career skills; Learning and Innovation skills; Information, Media and Technology skills; and Core subjects and Themes. 

NECTFL Teacher of the Year Session is so amazing. Ms. Lee showed us Chinese Teachers' Bag of Tricks. I like it. She described several game-like activities to us about how to motivate students and involve them. 
1. An ice-broke activity - create a book and self-introduce

2. Use a piece of paper to summarize what learnt

3. Build a house and introduce your family. You can use this in the family topic. This is really fun. 

4. Go Fish. Use these small cards to play "Go Fish". Everyone got 5 cards. One talks to whom next to her, "do you have football?" or "do you like playing football?". If the other doesn't have football in one's hand, one would say "no ,I don't like playing football.". And the first one get one from left cards. 

5. The same materials with the 4th. All cards should be face down. Flip one, and memorize it. The other student flip another one. If you remember that, flip two same. Another game is bingo game.

6. Wild wind blow. The teacher says "Wild wind blow, wild wind blow." Students ask "Blow what?" Then the teacher says "Blow whom wearing white clothes." Then those who wearing white clothes should stand up and blow to another place. The one who does not get a seat is out. 

7. Heart Attack. The teacher puts pictures on the desk one by one. But the teacher should say different words with the picture shows. Only if the teacher says the same words with the same picture. Students can put their hands on the picture and he owns all the pictures on the desk.

8. Body parts and position can be taught in this way!

Let's go through to another session. This session integrates technology to second language teaching. The first is sketchup, with which you can design a house or room by yourselves. The second one is Google map. You can show a trip in front of your students. The third one is iMovie/Photo story. You can create your own stories with audio, visual, etc. 

The next session I attended is from Noah Geisel, the Teacher of the Year by ACTFL. He described his culture and communities activities in his session. And now I'm considering a topic which combine culture and second language learning together. It's a wonderful and fun topic. Here is the link: here's Noah's culture RAFT:

Next I wanna share the session:Acquiring vocabulary: It's not just flashcard. Here 's the link:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Body parts activity - build a panda

Today I am teaching body parts to my students. In order to integrate culture to language teaching, I introduced panda to the whole class. They were all interested in panda. One of my students said that is that bear plus cat? Lol. 

Then, I told them to use their body parts cut to build a panda. Here are their masterpieces!!!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Elmer the elephant craft

Elmer is a great book for kindergarten kids to read. It says how our differences make us great. But the most interesting part is the parade. Ask your students to make their own Elmer and other elephants and lead a parade!

Padlet Wall provides an electric wall for anyone to post any sentences, audio or videos. Students do not need to log in.

Pair Up Activities

1. Appointment book

A teacher friend of mine does an icebreaker at the beginning of the year called an "appointment book." It's like the bingo game, except kids have a sheet that lists the days of the school week. They have to find someone they don't know well and share...(fill in the blank, their favorite movie, their best day) etc. They must sign the same day on each other's pages. Once they are done playing, they must tape it into the front cover of their Interactive Student Notebook (or binder, or desk lid?).

Then, throughout the year, she says, "OK, now get with your Wednesday partner..." Everyone is matched and it is pretty random due to the nature of the icebreaker.

2. Index Card

One system that works well when you have a little time to spend (about 5 minutes to match them up) is index cards. I have a set of 36 cards I made at the begining of the year. I put matching stickers on every set of two cards and then I had them laminated.

I put them face down on the table and have them come up in groups to pick a card. They then have to find their sticker match. Simple and the kids seem to like it.

I use how ever [many] sets as I need depending on absent students. If I have an odd number, I put one odd card in the mix and who ever gets that card waits till the end and can pick which ever group they want to be in. 

3. Puzzle

A friend of mine gave me a cute idea. We usually work in 4's but you could do the same thing for 2's. She cut the beautiful pictures from an old calendar, had them laminated, then cut them into puzzle shaped pieces. 

4. Clock partner

I just recently started using "clock partners". I made a clock that has a line next to 3, 6, 9 and 12. Then students went around and chose people to be their 3, 6, 9 and 12 o'clock partner. Now it's really easy because I can just say ok, get with your 3 o'clock partner. 

To avoid complaning and all that comes with partners, as a class we created "partner rules" that are posted in the room at all times. Whenever I have an issue I refer to the rules and they know if they break one of those rules then they do not get a partner the next time we work together.

5. Snowball Fight

Use snowball Fight at the beginning of the class. And I am teaching a second language, so I will use a picture and a corresponding word to pair students up.

6. Shape partner

I have always taught lower grades and have used 4 shapes (circle, square, star, triangle) on a paper with a line next to them. At the beginning of the year, I had kids take their paper and fill in the partners. They could choose one person from their group (I usually group my desks into 4 or 5 in a group) but the other shapes had to be filled in from other groups. If I was your square partner, then we put my name on your paper next to the square and your name on my paper next to the square. It seemed to really help because I would say "find you star partner and do..." and it cut back on those responses, "I don't want to work with _________." 

7. Mingle mingle

We do "mingle mingle" from SPARKS (PE) curriculum. Basically, the kids all walk around and "mingle mingle mingle" (said like the tune of the conga line dance), and then I call out how they should group up or pair up "3 back to back, birthdays in the same month" or "pairs, wearing the same color shirt." Sometimes they get to choose, sometimes I choose the parameters. The kids love it, for the most part, and if they complain, I do not let them choose their own partners next time. When they have worked together well for many times in a row, I will let them mingle and choose their own partner another time. 

OR I will have them line up by age or birthdate or some other line, then pair them with the people next to them, or count off or something else.