Last December ,with a 2nd countrywide lockdown in place, each and every citizen had been quarantined within the four walls of their home, since mid-November. As teachers, it had become not only our duty but also our responsibility towards to our students to follow it diligently, as it is a much-needed step to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Spending most of their time indoors had increased the time my students spent with our family members. Ever since, this has reinstated the fact that it is only your family which is beside you through thick and thin. You have got once in a lifetime opportunity to spend so many days altogether with your family, and it is better to not waste them.
The most essential of all, being in a lockdown has made us realize the importance of the freedom we all had and the importance of the most precious gift of all, a gift that money can’t buy: family!
After all, there’s no point in suffering through a global crisis if we don’t learn something from it. “No challenge, no change,”
What I actually taught my students ,during our December webex lessons, was the importance of being present!
This is the summary of the main ideas we talked about ,during our online lessons.
“Want to know one Christmas gift that everyone will really love this year? Having your full, devoted attention at all your holiday gatherings.
This Christmas season, put in the extra effort and do your best to be fully present when around your family and friends. I promise you it will be much more enjoyable for everyone (including yourself).
Give the gift of your sincere, undivided attention. Listen, really listen, without thinking about how you’ll respond; listen with the intention to understand, because people need to be heard: sometimes that’s all they need.
Your sincere presence, your authenticity, is one of the best gifts you can give; your offering is to be with your nearest and dearest.
Let others know how grateful you are for their presence in your life. Say, “thank you” and “I appreciate you” and “I love you.” It’s one of the greatest gifts.”
“For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi
THE LESSON PLAN STEPS
I decided to use one of my favourite wordcloud web tools in order to have all my students to share their ideas about which gifts ” only you can give” !
Sharing my screen and my most favourite virtual whiteboard app, I presented them with the topic I wanted them to brainstorm about: Christmas gift ideas for kids.
The next step was to have them work in groups, using the webex breakout rooms feature, to discuss their ideas.
They had to share all those ideas with the whole class, afterwards.
Finally, I shared my own idea about which are the three best gifts we can give to others!
Time: People always say time is money, but it doesn’t have to be. Time is one of the biggest and inexpensive gifts you can give yourself and others. Giving yourself the gift of free time can truly help your perspective in life.
Love: The gift of love, shouldn’t really need much explanation. Unfortunately, many celebrated Christmas and New Year’s without their loved ones this year. We should never forget to tell those people we do care about, that we love them, tomorrow is never promised.
Attention:There’s no doubt, Christmas will always be associated with presents; however,we should never underestimate the importance of spending a little extra time with someone, loving others. Giving, is better than receiving. Some of the best gifts we can give, can’t be wrapped as they come from the heart.
One Dad, planning on working away for Christmas, takes his daughter’s letter for Santa with him to post. Unfortunately, he misses the ‘post boat’ and a series of mishaps means that he ultimately ends up delivering the letter to The North Pole himself.
He receives a lift home and is surprised by the contents of the letter when he gets there.
Few more teaching ideas you can also use, especially with older students
Discuss and share ideas for some gifts ‘only you can give’ this Christmas.
Write diary entries in role of the girl.
Create an inner monologue for the father.
Describe the epic journey and the sights he sees on his travels.
Recount the journey in the first person.
Informal letter -if you wish. I asked them to write their letters to Santa, asking for …GIFTS THEY CAN ONLY GIVE!
When this pandemic began, teachers all over the World were given little notice to shift very quickly to distance learning or e-learning, sometimes with no training. In many cases, we had 48 hours or a weekend to reinvent lessons for an already planned curriculum, learn new technologies, find non-technology solutions to student learning, and figure out how to keep students engaged. But all us etwinning teachers ,also had to balance home and work and how to do our life’s work from afar while simultaneously caring for students, grieving losses, and so many more challenges and obstacles!
For all those -mainly non-European -teachers who keep asking me about what etwinning is about: eTwinning is the community for schools in Europe.
I personally realised that there was only ONE thing that was still there for both me and my students, during the lockdown: etwinning!
eTwinning offers a platform for staff (teachers, head teachers, librarians, etc.), working in a school in one of the European countries involved, to communicate, collaborate, develop projects, share and, in short, feel and be part of the most exciting learning community in Europe. eTwinning is co-funded by the Erasmus+, the European programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport.
eTwinning promotes school collaboration in Europe through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by providing support, tools and services for schools. eTwinning also offers opportunities for free and continuing online Professional Development for educators.
Launched in 2005 as the main action of the European Commission’s eLearning Programme, eTwinning is co-funded by the Erasmus+, the European programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport, since 2014.
Its Central Support Service is operated by European Schoolnet, an international partnership of 34 European Ministries of Education developing learning for schools, teachers and pupils across Europe. eTwinning is further supported at national level by 38 National Support Services.
The place where eTwinning magic really happens is the TwinSpace; a safe platform visible only to the teachers participating in a project. Students can also be invited in the TwinSpace to meet and collaborate with peers from their partner schools.
One of the most important elements of eTwinning is collaboration among teachers, students, schools, parents, and local authorities. In eTwinning teachers work together and organise activities for their students. They have an active role, interact, investigate, make decisions, respect each other and learn 21st century skills. eTwinning projects involve the contribution of each member of the team. Take inspiration and explore these awarded projects.
Finally, in eTwinning, our work is important and deserves to be shared and recognised locally, nationally and Europe-wide. eTwinning recognises the work carried out by teachers, students, and schools through National and European Quality Labels, eTwinning Awards, eTwinning Schools and the eTwinning Portfolio.
One of our school inspiring etwinning projects, this year, was a project about DEMOCRATIC VALUES.
About the project
This #eTw4Democracy project, provides an opportunity for students to make connections with students of other European partner schools, sharing and enhancing democratic values, at the same time. Our schools are microcosms of the communities in which they exist. They are the perfect environment for students not only to learn about civics and democratic values, but also to experience democracy in all aspects of school life cultivating the way the students become citizens. In a democratic school students and teachers should participate equally in the shaping of school life, thus realising their right to have a say on matters that affect them. The activities in this project aim to support students in promoting democratic values within their school communities ensuring that students understand their rights and responsibilities and have strategies for building an inclusive and equitable school environment for all.
The overall aim is to share school democratic values, with others! Children will recognize that their actions affect themselves but also others. Our “HanDS” project, provides the opportunity to break down classroom walls, too. It gives our students a chance to see a world outside of their walls and teach about Democracy, at the same time. Additionally, our aim is that, the concept of Europe will be understood and our students will become fully aware of the other European partner schools. Therefore, citizenship should become a practical ,rather than theoretical, part of the curriculum. All in all,our aims are: To prepare students for their future role as citizens To provide students with opportunities for learning in a democratic environment To promote active participation and responsibility in the school environment To improve students’ communication, collaboration, decision- making and problem- solving skills
The tasks, will be set by all partner schools; the activities and work produced will be shared on twinspace by the schools, on a monthly basis and the work process will be communicated using the journal, on a weekly basis. Depending on the activity, pupils will have the opportunity to work independently or with talk partners and will have membership / access to twinspace to share and see the other school’s work and join in forums. Children will also have the opportunity to work in mixed ability groups in each school or in teams of pupils in different schools, sharing responsibilities. They will also have to work in teams, to think of ideas about collaborative projects and about the hand-print crafts, to fill the parcels that will be sent to the other schools, on different topics. Those parcels will have themes, such as:school life in the past, school life at present ,a day in a democratic school etc The project, works on two levels: sharing on twinspace and parcel exchanges, by post.
Children will learn about civics and democratic values, but also experience democracy in all aspects of school life,through their dialogue, written work and the parcels that they will send and receive! Children will also practice writing and communicating in English and children in all countries will familiarize themselves with aspects of each other’s school life, promoting democratic values within their school communities.
Our project, helps us to widen our horizons, reconsider our perspectives, improve self-esteem, increase understanding of different cultures and values , enhance democracy in the school environment and prove that “communication is at the basis of understanding others”.The process is always constantly about learning to learn collaboratively, building an inclusive and equitable school environment for all. The pupils are expected to be inspired and motivated and participate equally in the shaping of school life .
Schools ,all over the World, have made many changes to keep students and teachers safe during the school year, and class Halloween celebrations have seen changes too.
All teachers, have to follow social distancing and other COVID protocols, every day.
Halloween was very different , in my classes,this year,as well.
With social distancing in place , many of the games and activities we love doing at Halloween were simply not possible this year.
As such, it has been quite difficult for me as a teacher ,to come up with fun Halloween games to do while safely social distancing.
Keep Your Distance
Ηere’s my list of fun social distancing Halloween games and activities that our students can safely do while keeping their distance from others. They worked in my class. I do hope, they will work in yours, as well.
What is it about Halloween that I love so much ? It’s its FUN element, I guess!
Therefore, I decided to try and bring some Halloween spirit to my class this weird year.
I attempted to teach my students Halloween themed lessons, and to elicit some excitement from them, following the protocols. I feel that we, at least, paid Halloween a pretty good tribute, against all odds.
A few of my favourite non-contact Halloween active gamesand activities
The first day I started thinking about how to teach about Halloween safely, for both my students and me, I ran into this highly inspiring English Teacher’s video, on Facebook! I decided to give it a try and see if it worked with my very young learners ! Guess what: it did!! We just loved it!
If you’re looking for a spooky activity to do with your students this HalloweenHere’s an idea…Make your own Mini Puppet Theatre (out of a cereal box) and sing-along with 6 monster stick puppets. Watch the video to know more!
Another great game I ran into and decided to use in my classes ,both synchronously and asynchronously, is this one, below. I found even more social distancing teaching ideas for Halloween party games to try with my classes, in this amazing site.
Draw A Monster Game
That was a great game to play at Halloween while social distancing. In that game, the kids drew a monster.
To play, I asked each student to grab a piece of paper and something to draw with and then played the video. In the video, the students read a description of a monster. After reading the description, they tried to draw what they thought the monster looked like based on that description.
Once students finished their drawing, I/they played the video to see what the monster looked like.
My students, really loved this kind of activity, especially when their monster drawings looked very similar to the monster in the video. I asked them to work on this video at home, using our asynchronous e-me hive platform but you can follow the same steps, in a school class.
This activity can be easily done at Halloween while social distancing as the students can stay in their seats while they draw their monster, and do not need to be close to or share resources with others.
This next social distancing Halloween game is a Halloween themed BINGO game.
To play, the students were asked to create a Halloween vocabulary Bingo card, in their notebooks, using any 9 Halloween vocabualry words/pictures they wished.
Next, I called out one of the Halloween words, in our vocabulary list, for example ‘ghost’. Then, the students should check their bingo card. If the ghost word/picture is on their card, then they had to cross that Halloween word/picture out.
Then, I called out another Halloween word and again students should check if that word was in their card and if it was, they should cross it out, again. The first student who crossed out all their Halloween words/pictures, was the winner.
Halloween Costume Fashion Show
This social distancing Halloween activity idea is a great way to let kids strut their stuff and show off their fun and scary Halloween costumes.
I always set up an area to be your ‘Halloween catwalk’ and then invite students one by one to walk down the catwalk and show off their great Halloween costumes.
This year, I did that with my 4th graders ,after I had sent them a Halloween vocabulary quizlet and thesetwo relevant songs/videos, in our asynchronous class, first!
I also asked them to visit this , as well as that Thinglink walls , before they decided about what to dress up ,in our school classroom.
To make it feel even more like a fashion show, I snapped some pictures of them in their costumes and shared them with the students’ parents, in our asynchronous class!
Halloween Word Search
I am sure that we all have used word search worksheets ,to get our kids familiar with some Halloween vocabulary. But this online Halloween activity also has the added benefit of being perfectly safe to do while keeping a safe distance from others.
Another cool web tool , which I personally used to create my own word search activities was Liveworksheets. A free teaching web tool, you will love!
Halloween Charades Game
With a little preparation, this classic party game can be turned into a safe social distancing Halloween game.
If you’re not familiar with charades, in this game one person would choose a card -or to make sure this Halloween game can be played while safely social distancing,the teacher shows him/her a card- and then try to act out what is on the card without using any words or sounds.
To make it into a Halloween game, I simply used cards with Halloween related things on them. For example,I wrote/drew Halloween words (ghost, witch, broomstick, etc), Halloween songs (The Monster Mash, etc) or Halloween Movies (Night of The Living Dead, etc). It’s diffrent ,for each different age/level we teach.
I ensured the student acting out the word and the students guessing the word were all at a safe distance.
Usually, these quizzes would be played in pairs or small teams, but seen as that is not possible while social distancing, these quizzes can be played individually, both at home asynchronously ,or in class, using a projector and working in teams.
I personally create my own quizzes, such as this one, on a favourite web tool which is similar to Kahoot, called Quizziz.
Students, love it!
I thought that, this classic classroom game could be easily adapted so my students could play while social distancing.
This time, I decided to use my Halloween flashcards, to play this game.
I asked one student to come to front of the class and stand / sit at a safe distance from other students. Then standing behind the student I showed the rest of the class a flashcard.
Next, the students tried to describe the word on the flashcard without saying the word, and the student at the front of the class should guess what it was. Super fun!
We played apple bobbing and dangling donuts
Apple bobbing – I gave each student their own apple in their own bowl of water, or asked them to hold their own apple tied onto a string and challenged them to take a bite without touching it.I made it a race and gave the winner a prize.
Dangling donuts – Each student held their own donut tied onto a string. They took it in turns to dangle a donut for each other. The challenge was to eat it with no hands, as fast as possible.
Detail 1: there was spooky music playing ,in the background!
Detail 2: My students ,had to watch a couple of videos similar to this one, in our asynchronous class, when at home, before they attended our school class.
In our asynchronous “e-me hive“, my students had the chance to watch several videos, such as this one, or this one, follow the directions there and make their favourite crafts and decorations to bring back to class, the following day.
I decided to ask my amazing 4th graders to watch a video with instructions about how to make paper ghosts using their footprints, at home, and make them ,either themselves or with their parents’ help. Then, they were asked to write about them and decorate their classroom bulletin board with them, after they had presented them in class, of course! Cute!
Let’s make spooky food
What better time to indulge in some jaw-droppingly tasty sweets, than Halloween time?
First, I posted a few delicious Halloween treats ideas, to our asynchronous class and asked my students to watch and prepare their favourite treats, bring them to school and share them, in our Halloween party ! Yummy!
A pumpkin carving contest
I suggest that you treat everyone in the class to their very own pumpkin and see who can come up with the best design. Ι have come to the conclusion that a safe way to get little kids involved is to post a video with instructions in an asynchronous teaching platform and tell them to ask their parents to do the cutting for them, first. Then let them scoop out the insides with a spoon. This how to carve a pumpkin beginners’ guide is a great place to start. This is where we started, in our school classroom.
Another nice video, which I posted in our asynchronous hive, to help my older students curve their pumpkins at home, was this one. For my younger learners, I used this video.
I hope, you will like them as much as we did!
Have a ‘scary’ movie night, at home-or a scary movie…. day, at school
At first, I told them that, during Halloween nights, the people who celebrate it take some tasty Halloween treats and wear their Halloween costumes or some cool Halloween PJs like these glow-in-the-dark skeleton ones.
Then, I asked them to watch the short film extracts ,which I had created, using one of my most favourite web teaching tools: edpuzzle, asynchronously, together with their families.
I even offered them a choice of several other Halloween themed movies, to watch at home, using Quizlet.
Make a spooky music playlist
From Michael Jackson’s Thriller to the Ghostbusters theme tune, I decided to have lots of class fun compiling a spooky playlist to listen to, together with my students. I thought it was safe, to post the lyrics to our asynchronous class first and later,with the use of a projector, have a Halloween karaoke competition, in the school classroom ! It was so much fun! Although, it didn’t last long ,since our teaching hours last only about 40 minutes ! My students were given the opportunity to sing the songs again and again, at home, too, thanks, to our asynchronous class platform posts.
For my very young learners, I did the very same thing , using their favourite Halloween songs, such as this one , this one or even this one!
We all danced and sang happily- in safe distances, of course!
You don’t have to read a book on the page to write a story report. This Halloween, instead of having my students listen to an audiobook or story, I decided to have my wicked witch puppet, Amelia present herself to the class!
It was an active listening activity, using puppetry! I asked them to keep notes, while listening.
Then I had them write a story report based on what they heard, or give a summary of the story to our asynchronous class, in a padlet presentation.
In spite of some critics who downplayed the importance of social and emotional learning and the value of belonging, to me it is clear and has been for some time: When kids spend their daytime hours in safe, supportive schools where teachers work every day to build strong relationships with every student, they are simply better, more engaged learners.
Teaching during the lockdown was indeed about the technology—the mechanics of how to teach remotely.
But it was mainly about how we were going to hold our students’ hearts.
It was about connecting everybody and making them feel safe and secure ,before we got to the academics.
This virus had definitely stolen our students’ school experience for the rest of the year and we were not sure what would come next. Our students, missed their friends and their teachers, the feeling of being together and connected.
So we had to work on relationship skills and how to talk to each other the right way. It was back then, more important than ever .
I hope, we all agree that ,as teachers , we are leaders, guides, facilitators, and mentors.
We encourage students when they struggle, and inspire them to set and reach for their goals. We are role models, leading by example and giving direction when necessary.
In the very first days of the lockdown, my initial thought was not to rush to teach them Grammar and Language skills but to have my students express themselves!
Because, I know that when we can share our sensations, thoughts, and feelings, we feel a sense of relief, safety, and calm, and sharing our feelings and learning about them is one of the most powerful ways to regulate our nervous systems during stressful periods of time.
Many of my students reported feeling isolated, depressed, and overwhelmed!
The lack of a support system had definitely been the hardest part about not physically attending school.
What I had in mind before I decided to launch “Our FEELINGS project” on e-me was Growth Mindset.
Last year, I was introduced to Growth Mindset by Jennifer Schmidt of The Cogent Construct based in Spain.
Jennifer, had partnered with Pilgrim’s based in the UK to offer a new and innovative online teacher coaching / mentorship program and I was asked to contribute to it!
About Growth Mindset
This is a term introduced by Prof Carol Dweck and a concept that manyschools are now introducing as a way to support a positive learning mindset. Those with a growth mindset (as opposed to a fixed mindset) believe they can improve with hard work and perseverance and that their intelligence isn’t fixed. They display better self-esteem and increased resilience. The journal encourages a growth mindset through checklist prompts and use of daily quotes to remind children about the importance of not giving up when faced with challenges.
During the lockdown, we were all developing empathy.
Empathy is the act of meeting someone in their pain and helping them feel like they’re not alone.
In order to inspire my students to take that journey, me as a teacher could not pretend that human feelings were something to which I was immune.I had to feel with students, which required both an acknowledgment that my own feelings existed and a desire to understand the feelings of my students. If I could create a fertile space for empathy to grow, I could also provide the opportunity for meaningful connections with my students.
I also used some writing opportunities for my students to get their thoughts, feelings, fears, and questions down in a creative format of their choice.
I gave them an option to share with the e-class.This did not only allow them to share out their feelings but also gave me a place to check on them and follow up when I saw any of them expressing sadness, fear, etc.
Most importantly , I was honest and as understanding as possible to let students know we were all in that together and would likely all need a little grace.
Αfter the first shock, I decided to focus my teaching on supporting my students emotionally.
Actually, the very first idea which I used in our synchronous meetings, during the lockdown, belonged to our inspiring colleague Effie Kyrikakis.
It was all about sharing our wishes and sharing positive messages within our families and the local community and about committing small acts of kindness.
The message to my students was:You can always fly with your imagination! Spread your positivity! #PlanesofHope
The main idea was that, each adult in their lives -teacher or parent- focuses on helping them bolster their strengths, discover their affinities, and realize their personal visions for the future.
Afterall, each teacher should be a role model of calm reflection within their school.
To me,it is crucial that we should avoid exhibiting our own frustrations, especially in emergencies.
As a result, my students became more likely to think of setbacks as temporary. They recognized that by using more effective personal strategies ,they could overcome obstacles and turn setbacks into triumphs.
During those challenging times,I thought that ,rather than jumping in to fix the problem when my students were bored or unmotivated to do online work ,I should let them feel their feelings as they faced those challenges. The key was to listen to and encourage them so that they felt comfortable taking control.
My motto: Let’s let our students discover their own ways to cope. This is phenomenal emotional growth and skill-building for the future.
Consequently, it was highly important that I should encourage my students to talk about their feelings but also express gratitude.
Therefore,I decided to incorporate another inspiring idea into our asynchronous meetings during the lockdown, which belonged to my amazing colleague Theodora Bogiou.
It was about sharing and spreading positive messages, during the lockdown, within the local communities.
Practising gratitude this way,not only helped my students to see the goodness in their lives but also realise that it could come from a number of sources, even inside their homes .
It proved to be highly beneficial for the kids, to enhance our practical optimism through focusing on gratitude, small acts of kindness, emotional mindfulness, brain exercise, and positive surroundings, especially in those difficult times of self-isolation.
THE #I_love_ME_project IDEA, IN BRIEF
We hang some messages on a tree in our backyards and balconies.
The first messages was on a red heart and they started by saying I love…
The second message was on green leaves and they started by saying I’m grateful for..
The third message was on suns and it was a message to somebody they loved, like advice or a love message. It started by saying My message to you is…
All in all, I managed to promote emotional growth by encouraging my children to talk about their feelings, helping them identify those feelings and validating them.
In addition to practical steps to prevent illness (like washing hands and keeping a safe distance from others in the grocery store), I wanted to stress to my students that there were many other areas of pandemic life that they could control: how they spent their time at home, what they did to manage tough emotions, which self-care tools they utilized to reduce stress, etc. Me and my students discussed those coping methods and even made a list of them together.
Consequently, the next idea for our webex online meeting, came from Effie Kyriakakis’ #re-bloom project
They actually wrote about their inner strengths ,on their artwork, on paper flower petals and shared them with the class both synchronously and asynchronously.
We also talked about resilience! Talking about resilience and the positive things that can come out of a crisis was not an attempt to paint a happy picture of those times, but to create real, measurable factors that can be gained by coming through a difficult time.
I thought that I should first demonstrate how I face challenges and frustration head-on and use different coping tactics like talking to loved ones, making art or playing music, which I later asked my students to try ,at home.
I often give my students’ brain and body a positive workout, in the school classroom . I decided to do the same,during the lockdown.
-I believed that finding ways of calming the body could help some children, too – for example, using breathing or meditation techniques. Many of my students told me that being very active and ‘keeping busy’ stopped negative feelings and reduced stress levels to them.
– For almost everyone, physical movement and exercise are very important. Scheduling time for that ,especially during the lockdown, helped my students to make sure they remembered to do it. I decided to ask them to do that, at the beginning of each synchronous class meeting.
– I also encouraged them to find an activity which they enjoyed that was completely separate from any homework tasks – it was cooking, art, a new sport indoors, catching up with friends on a regular video call, etc.
– My suggestion to them about doing things for others had also been found to help my students manage their own stress. i.e. helping around the house.
Being mindful of our emotional state, matters.
I personally believe that we have come into this life to make a positive impact on the world. Our inherent nature is at odds with growth—we tend to want to stay in our comfort zones.
If we always seek comfort first, we miss the purpose for which we came into this world.
My students and I came to understand that challenges are opportunities for growth. It is through life’s challenges that we find its greatest gifts, but we need to know how to look for them, and, more importantly, appreciate them.
Few weeks later, I decided it was time to talk to them about true and authentic confidence and courage.
We discussed that that’s how we survive when our confidence takes a hit, and how we can actually enhance our self-assurance when we struggle.
Believe it or not, even my youngest learners, got the message!
STORYTELLING and facing our covid19 fears
1.LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD and covid19
I decided to use a well-known fairytale , to talk to my youngest students about the pandemic: Little Red Riding Hood.
Why? Well, because of its symbols.
There are many versions of the story of Little Red Riding Hood but in many of the stories there are some common symbols.
A sweet innocent girl: Little Red Riding Hood (aka:my students) is unaware of the danger ahead. The wolf ( aka: covid19) easily convinces her to linger and give him time to reach grandmother’s house. She is also unaware of the wolf’s devious nature.
Her cap or hooded cloak suggests family protection.
It was given to her as a gift from her wise grandmother connecting the two. (Innocent becomes wise through painful experiences.)
The grandmother represents the wise, aged woman, the experienced one who is sick and needs our help and care. The grandmother represents the elderly and other vulnerable members, in our family.
There are three generations represented in the story. Red Riding Hood represents the first generation, her mother represents the second generation and the grandmother represents the elderly.
The wolf is the Coronavirus, the danger ,outside . He tricks the innocent Red Riding Hood just as anyone can deceive us if we are not aware of the dangers.
The forest is where the life away from home is.There are many distractions along the way and sometimes this allows our covid19 to get the better of us.
If not for the huntsman, who represents the doctors, all would be lost. The huntsman is keen and alert, always on the lookout for the virus. He rescues both of them from the belly of the wolf. They are unharmed.
Happy ending: The wolf is killed and the huntsman takes the pelt. Grandmother and Red Riding Hood eat and are merry.
The message to the kids : Whenever we overcome the danger and bring awareness to our behaviors there is a time of lightness and joy.
Our family, represented by the mother, is there to advise and support us!
2.THE WIZARD OF OZ and covid19
I decided to use another well-known story which had already been introduced to my kids, before the lockdown and during our English Drama Lab meetings, to talk to my oldest students about the pandemic: The Wizard of Oz
I thought, it would be a great idea to keep working on it, remotely, too, during the lockdown, in order to teach the kids about how to cope with life hardships and enhance their confidence and boost their courage!
WHAT DOES THE WIZARD OF OZ HAVE TO DO WITH CONFIDENCE and covid19?
If you think about it, each of the characters in The Wizardof Oz are searching for a different aspect of confidence.
Lion fluctuates between fearful and overly aggressive behaviour, because he lacks the confidence to face his fears.
Scarecrow is very intelligent, but lacks belief in himself, or self-confidence.
Tin Man searches for the confidence to know that expressing his unique feelings and sensitive side is okay.
Dorothy searches for the ability to follow her own heart and to learn how to stand up for what she believes is right with authority figures like the Wicked Witch and the Wizard himself.
All of the characters find their confidence along the journey, and they become more alive and more themselves as they do.
As for courage, what we all learned was that, like the Cowardly Lion, we could already be far more courageous, more valiant, more heroic than we imagine. All we need may be a little encouragement and affirmation of the considerable inner power we each already possess in order to rise courageously to the challenge of this current existential crisis, and those we will inevitably face in the future.
Certainly, we all had, all those lockdown days, to search for and summon up such inner personal and collective courage, in order to cope constructively with the cataclysmic and chronic covid19 crisis.
To sum up,this is what we actually focused on, both synchronously and asynchronously:
It is what Lion learned…
the ability to face your fears and try new things.
ΑΝΤΙΜΕΤΩΠΙΖΩ ΤΟΥΣ ΦΟΒΟΥΣ ΜΟΥ!
It is what Scarecrow learned…
the ability to believe in yourself and be comfortable with your own abilities and strengths.
ΠΙΣΤΕΥΩ ΣΤΟΝ ΕΑΥΤΟ ΜΟΥ!
It is what Tin Man learned…
the ability to express your feelings and thoughts, your true self, and not be afraid of how others see you.
ΕΙΜΑΙ Ο ΕΑΥΤΟΣ ΜΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΔΕΝ ΕΠΗΡΕΑΖΟΜΑΙ ΑΠΟ ΤΟ ΠΩΣ ΜΕ ΒΛΕΠΟΥΝ ΟΙ ΑΛΛΟΙ!
It is what Dorothy learned…
the power to stand up for what you believe is right.
ΥΠΕΡΑΣΠΙΖΟΜΑΙ ΤΟ ΔΙΚΑΙΟ!
My students were learning to be courageous, instead of disappointed or depressed, when their boundaries were crossed.
They were learning that their words can make an impact on others and when they see that they are effective, they learn that they are capable of dealing with problems themselves which boosts self-confidence.
Much like developing the skills and knowledge that we need to advance as a teacher, becoming more optimistic , especially in emergencies, entails deliberate effort.
And as with maintaining other competencies, sustaining a positive outlook may require a practical maintenance routine of being mindful about the good things in life, in us, in our work, and in our students
Research Says: The benefits of using games in the classroom are various. they “range from cognitive aspects of language learning to more cooperative group dynamics.” Games also lower the affective filter and encourage “creative and spontaneous use of language,” promote “communicative competence.” What’s more—games are fun.
Treasure hunts (aka scavenger hunts) can be arranged in a variety of ways, and so they are suitable for any level.
Here’s one of the things I do, with my junior classes :
I bring a “Magic Box ” in class and ask my students to fill it in, with …”magic things”!
They make their own word cards, with their favorite “magic items ” on . They are asked to draw items, based on vocabulary studied.
I hide these vocabulary cards around the room and use verbal, visual or audio clues, to direct the students to where the cards are. (They can only keep the card if they can name the item, or pronounce/spell what’s on the card correctly). I generally only let one student loose at a time to prevent scrapping !…
I love working on Treasure hunt games, with my junior classes, the most.
Of course, as the students progress we can make the treasure hunt (clues etc.) more difficult.
How to Play
Students are divided into groups.
Each group has a list of items/cards to find.
The rules are explained: Students are to find as many items as they can within an allotted time period. They can find the items in any order, but the team must stay together.
Inform players of the area of the hunt.
When the time limit is up, the teams meet at the designated spot.
Each group responds with their card item spelling/definition/ etc.
If they do it right, the team is awarded one point.
The team with the most points wins.
How to Make It
First, prepare the list or cards of items to find
Make sure the items can be “found” in the area that you have the scavenger hunt.
Select items based on vocabulary studied.
Students can each submit a card/item to be found.
With older students, you can use clues, with a certain part of speech (e.g., adjective or adverb).
The game concludes after so many cards are found instead of being limited by a certain time frame.
Each June, my students and me, get to celebrate all of the learning, hard work, and progress that we have made with end of the year activities, in class.
After a long school year, creating and planning activities for an end of the year celebration is the last thing on my mind. There are always end-of-year assessments, data entry, deadlines, assemblies, and the usual chaos that stands at the forefront, but I still want to do some special activities with my classes. I have tried several awesome activities that work, all these years! I save time by providing end-of-year activities for my students that are ready to decorate! Sharing here, some exciting ideas that double as great keepsakes:
Most of these ideas, which I have tested in class, with huge success, come from this site.
BALLOON TOSS: GOALS FOR THE FUTURE
I give each of my older students, a slip of paper and invite him or her to write one goal for the future.
I have students slip the notes inside balloons and then inflate them. Later, I have them toss balloons (like graduation caps), keeping one to pop and share its (anonymously) written message aloud –with the rest of the class.
(Actually, work the last part out in a way that the majority of the group likes—read one message, several messages, or all or no messages)
My 6th graders, simply love this activity! Alternatively, you could try the…
“Fortune Cookie” Balloon Toss
I have a brainstorming session with students about the adventures of summer and all of the good things that might happen. I have every student write one positive “fortune” on a pre-cut slip of paper such as “You will go on a marvelous adventure,” “You will achieve your goals,” “You will make a new friend,” etc. Each student will put his or her slip into a balloon, inflate it and tie it off. We make a large circle and play a song. I have students toss balloons around until the music stops. Each student should end up with one balloon. Using whatever means they like (sitting on it, using a sharp pencil, hair clip, etc.), students pop their balloons and read their fortunes. I go around the circle and have each student share his or her fortune aloud.
THANKS FOR THE COMPLIMENT
(A nice way to end the school year! Especially with older students or the ones who graduate) Need: Paper, markers, tape
1. Everyone gets a piece of paper taped to their back. (Make sure their name is at the top of the paper.)
2. Each person is given a marker.
3. Each person in the group must walk around the room and write a compliment or positive remark about that person on their back….. NO PEEKING!
4. When everyone has written something positive on each others back, they return to their seat and read what was written.
5. With a smaller group, everyone exchanges papers without looking at their own. Each participant can take a turn at reading aloud from person’s list they have.
This is a great self-esteem booster for kids! If some children still don’t know each other very well…they can write such things as: You have a great smile; You’re hair always looks nice; Great blue eyes; etc.
At the end of the year I have each younger student make an autograph book. They pass around their books and get everyone’s signatures and special notes ,for a summer keepsake.
IDEA: TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS DURING THE YEAR and put together a slide show.
I do it, every single year! Both parents and students, appreciate it!
‘Indoor or Outdoor FIELD DAY’ ideas
All children love playground games and some movement is crucial, when it comes to young learners. I usually, pre-teach the instructions and basic English games vocabulary in class, before we move out to play.
Potato Sack Races (using old pillow cases or sacks purchased from Oriental Trading or similar supplier)
Shoe Mix-Up: Have children take off their shoes and mix up the whole pile; have them race to put the shoes back on.
Tug of War: Using a huge rope have Kids vs. Kids and then play with Kids vs. Adults (They’ll like that one!)
Sock Throw: Put a tennis ball into a long sock and have kids throw it to see who can throw it the furthest!
How about the games played in ‘Summer Olympic Games’ such as:SOFTBALL, FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, HANDBALL, HOCKEY, TENNIS OR VOLLEYBALL? They’re all Summer Olympic Games!!!
A LETTER TO PARENTS AT THE END OF THE YEAR…
This letter below, is just one example. It’s a tradition for me, to write a letter to all parents, both at the beginning and at the end of each school year! I include all our goals and achievements. It works well, so far.
I give you back your child ~ the same child you confidently entrusted to my care last fall. I give him/her back pounds heavier, inches taller, months wiser, more responsible, and more mature then he was then.
Although he would have attained his growth in spite of me, it has been my pleasure and privilege to watch his personality unfold day by day and marvel at this splendid miracle of development.
Ten years from now if we met on the street, we’ll feel the bond of understanding once more, this bond we feel today.
We have lived, laughed, played, studied, learned, and enriched our lives together this year. I wish it could go on indefinitely, but give him/back I must. Take care of him, (or her) for he (she) is precious. I’ll always be interested in your child and his destiny, wherever he goes, whatever he does, whoever he becomes.
This school year, I made up some fun and unique awards for my older students. Together with the students in class, we found something unique about EACH CHILD and recognized them for that unique quality.I created the awards myself on a PC but you can also download a template from the internet.
A suggestion I have found here and we loved, in class:
We made up awards to match candy bars (I personally, adapted the names a bit…Had to match candy bars, we can buy in Greece ). Here are the names, in the original post :
ALMOND JOY AWARD: For the person who is always happy
BIT-O-HONEY AWARD: For someone very sweet
BUTTERFINGER AWARD: For the person who broke the most things
DOVE AWARD: For the program/class peacemaker
GUMMY BEARS AWARD: For a very lovable child, who is always laughing
JOLLY RANCHER AWARD: For the person always telling jokes
KIT KAT AWARD: For the student always at the teacher’s side
LAFFY TAFFY AWARD: For someone with a sweet disposition
LIFESAVERS AWARD: For the person, who is always helping someone in need
MILKY WAY AWARD: For the group daydreamer
MR. GOODBAR AWARD: For the student who exhibits the good qualities of friendship
NESTLE CRUNCH AWARD: An alternative to pencil chewing
NUTRAGEOUS AWARD: For an outstanding personality
NUTRAGEOUS AWARD: for the wild and crazy person in class
SKOR AWARD: For athletes in the class
SNICKERS AWARD: For having an outstanding sense of humor
SWEET TARTS AWARD: For a sweet girl/boy
SYMPHONY AWARD: For anyone musical
TEDDY GRAHAMS AWARD: For the most huggable
THREE MUSKETEERS AWARD: For the one always with the group
WHOPPERS AWARD: For the best storytelling
ZERO MATH AWARD: For outstanding performance in Math
I have each student write out one memorable moment from the school year on a slip of paper. I collect all the slips in a bag, hat, etc. I divide kids into teams and have them come up one team at a time, choose a slip and act out the memory for the group. No need to keep score—the goal is just to relive all the happy memories from the year and…use their English , of course…
Alternatively, I have them write their “End of School Year Reflections”-my own favourite end-of-school-year read!
“I Remember When …” Mural
This is a great activity when we have a few extra minutes to fill or when kids need a short brain break. I always use it ,on the very last day in class. I decorate the top of a long piece of butcher paper with the words “I Remember When …” -older students – or ” I want to say goodbye to…” -younger students- in large print. I allow students to write and draw favorite memories from the school year until all the space is filled. We display our banner proudly in our classroom or out in the hall for others to enjoy.
Puppets are a great way to encourage and motivate your pre-primary learners when learning a new language.
Here, Kathryn Harper, gives her top ten tips for using a puppet in the classroom.
1) Greetings and routines: “Hello. How are you?”
Establishing predictable routines is extremely important in the pre-primary classroom to help with classroom management. With routines, children quickly get to understand what’s expected of them, giving them the confidence to learn and achieve more.
A great way to use the class puppet is for routines. The puppet can greet and say goodbye to the children when they come in or leave the class, and elicit information from them, for example, “How are you today?”
The children will be comfortable and interested in replying to the puppet, and even the shyest child will want to interact with it in this way.
By using the puppet regularly for specific activities such as ‘Reading time’ or ‘Goodbye time’, you can move from one activity to the next seamlessly, keeping your students motivated and engaged.
2) Creating affective conditions
One of the pre-conditions for learning is for children to feel comfortable, secure, and in a nurturing environment. The presence of a class puppet can help reinforce this ‘safe’, affectionate space.
Here’s how to create this space using your puppet:
Puppets, particularly a soft one, can give cuddles to the children. This creates an instant warm reaction with the children.
Children can express affection towards the puppet by stroking it, patting its head etc. This contact can be extremely important in breaking down barriers, relaxing the children, and enabling physical expression.
The puppet can comfort children if they are sad, for example, they can sit with the puppet. The puppet keeps children comforted and includes them in the class.
The puppet can be emotional when you can’t, for example, show anger or cry. This is a great way for children to learn about different emotions.
3) Using humour to animate the classroom
As a teacher, you know that getting and keeping the attention of a class full of little ones can be a challenge when it’s just you up at the front of the class. Having a class puppet can suddenly make everything more interesting for your students, and is a great way to animate your class. Used in the right doses, the puppet can keep the attention of your students in many ways:
By doing funny or unusual things.
By showing reactions or emotions that might not be acceptable.
By creating a focus to an otherwise boring event.
By interacting with you.
4) Being allowed to get things wrong
Learning from mistakes and helping children see the good side of getting things wrong is key for their development. The puppet can be a huge confidence booster to your students, by showing them that it’s perfectly normal to get things wrong. It can do this by:
Showing the children that it doesn’t understand everything – and that’s alright!
Making fun of itself when it doesn’t understand –taking the pressure off children to get things perfect first time.
Letting the children play at being the teacher.
Orangito, the Spanish flat puppet in our class!
5) Modelling activities
When it comes to new activities and role plays, puppets can make the best partners. The puppet can attempt the role play and make a few mistakes. This shows students that it’s fine if they don’t get things right first time. Eventually, the puppet will complete the role play correctly and provide the perfect model for the children.
6) Acting out
One of the most effective and involving activities for children is acting out stories or situations. Of course the children could be the actors themselves, but if they use puppets, it liberates them and gives them greater creative licence. In particular, shy children can come alive using puppets as it takes the focus off them. What’s more, children with lower linguistic levels can be just as engaged with puppets because they can react visually through actions when they don’t have words.
7) Helping create stories or storytelling
Following on from number six, the next step is for children to create their own stories or follow on from an existing one. For this, you will need more than one puppet but you can easily get kids to bring in some of their cuddly toys, or make your own! When children tell their own stories, you really know they are engaged, their brains are working, and they have something to say.
This is a great activity to get the whole class participating. It can be very casual and short, or more involved and set up with props depending on your class size, the confidence of your students, or the learning outcomes you have set.
8) Being a target for activities
Activities are a lot more fun when a puppet is playing along. For example, if you are working on furniture vocabulary, you could play games such as ‘Where’s the puppet?’ – “He’s on the chair!” Or for classroom objects, you could play ‘What’s in the puppet’s bag?’ You can play games in which you pass the puppet around the class until someone says a particular word, and you could even play ‘Puppet says’ (instead of ‘Simon says’). The variations are endless. Have fun including the puppet in class games, and see your students’ participation soar!
9) The puppet as a a ‘prize’
The puppet is a tool for helping students learn how to behave in class, and as such, it can be used as a reward or a prize to incentivise good behaviour or hard work. Some ways you could use the puppet as a reward include:
holding the puppet for the rest of the class
leading the class in a song as ‘the puppet’
saying ‘Goodbye’ to everyone as ‘the puppet’
Children will be proud to take responsibility for the puppet during the class, and know they must look after it carefully.
10) Making puppets and creating a persona
Making puppets can become a great cross-curricular activity in itself and develop students’ fine motor skills. Get the children to create puppets reflecting characters from their English coursebook or their favourite stories, reflecting themselves or their chosen imaginary characters. By investing with the actual making of these puppets, role play or storytelling will become a lot more personal to the students.
Puppet making can be very simple or more complex. You can make puppets out of socks or paper bags. Finger puppets can be made out of felt, wool, paper or other materials, or even stick puppets made from lollypop sticks. There a lots of other ways to make great puppets so have fun getting crafty with your students! Looking for some templates to help you get started? Here are some finger puppets featuring some of the much loved characters from OUP’s Show and Tell series!
Kathryn Harper has a background in ELT teaching in both France and Canada. She worked in publishing for 10 years as a grammar and reference editor (OUP), developing-world schools and ELT publisher (OUP and Macmillan), and ELT publisher for Latin America (Macmillan). She has written educational materials for the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa, and is one of the authors of the pre-primary course Show and Tell (OUP).
My non European colleagues, often ask me what eTwinning is all about!
eTwinning is a free online community for schools in Europe which allows you to find partners and collaborate on projects within a secure network and platform.
Through participating in eTwinning, your school will be able to:
enrich learning and motivation of pupils (aged between 3 and 19) and staff
access high quality professional development and ready-made resources
raise standards across the whole school community
gain recognition for your commitment through eTwinning awards and the International School Award.
Search for an Erasmus+ partner to carry out projects with and apply for mobility funding.
There are, also, special quality labels, for students, teachers and schools!
1.National quality label
A National Quality Label is awarded to teachers with excellent eTwinning projects and indicate that the project has reached a certain level of quality in their country.
2. European quality label
The European Quality Label is a second mark of success and indicates that the project has reached a certain European standard.
3. eTwinning School label
In order to recognise the eTwinning work done at school level, there is now, a new label available – the eTwinning School Label.
The concept of recognition for work done in eTwinning has been in existence since the start with Quality Labels being available to teachers for their projects both at national and European level. However, these labels are applied only to the work of individual teachers in projects. In order to recognise the work done at school level, a new label is now available to apply for – the eTwinning School Label.
The principle behind this new label is that eTwinning wants to recognise and appraise the involvement, commitment, dedication not only of scattered eTwinners, but of teams of teachers and school leaders within the same school.
The concept of attaining the status of an eTwinning School is that of a developmental journey with components that can be objectively assessed. It is not a competition, but rather a progression from one level to the next.
About our project, this year
PuppeTs: Puppet Tourists
Our Flat Puppet Tourist Project, provides an opportunity for students to make connections with students of other European partner schools. Students begin by creating paper “Flat tourists ” whom they sent to our partner schools and ask their pals there to keep a journal for a few months ,on twinspace Forums, documenting the places and activities in which their Flat Tourist is involved. Each country’s Flat Tourist who is mailed to our partners has to be treated as a visiting guest . Partners have to add to their journal, and return them back home,after they have spent a whole school year in the host country .
Partners should also, upload photos,and/or videos, of their puppet tourist’s adventures on twinspace. Additionally, they exchange letters, postcards and souvenirs, from their Flat Tourist’s visits and experiences, by post .
All in all, children exchange ideas, photographs, questions and culture with students abroad, focusing on literacy and citizenship.
Our Puppet Tourist project, provides the opportunity to break down classroom walls. Whether the class we connect with is in another local school or another country, it serves the same purpose. It gives our students a chance to see a world outside of their walls. Additionally, our aim is that, the concept of Europe will be understood and our students will become fully aware of the other European partner countries and their ways of life. Citizenship should become a practical ,rather than theoretical, part of the curriculum.
Students begin by creating paper “Flat tourists ” ,whom they sent to our partner schools and ask their pals there to keep a journal for a few months ,on twinspace Forums, documenting the places and activities in which their Flat Tourist is involved. Each country’s Flat Tourist who is mailed to our partners has to be treated as a visiting guest , Partners have and add to their journal, and return them back home,after they have spent a whole school year as well as their Summer, in the host country and have written about their Summer adventures in their Summer diaries .
Partners should also, upload photos/videos , of their puppet tourist adventures . Additionally, they exchange postcards and little souvenirs, from their Flat Tourist’s experiences, by post . The final product of the project ,could be a collaboratively written puppet play or short film script .
The project works on two levels: sharing on twinspace and letter and parcel exchanges, by post.
eTwinning helps us to widen our horizons, reconsider our perspectives, improve self-esteem, increase understanding of different cultures, enhance tolerance and prove that “communication is at the basis of understanding”. So, regardless of the subject matter or the tools we use, the process is always constantly about learning to learn responsibly, actively and collaboratively. The pupils are expected to be inspired and motivated and have a great deal of fun working collaboratively on the many different projects.
Reading the personal responses of their European partners, may give students a greater insight into their partners’ context and worldview. The project can also bring the class together, as the pupils were working as a team. In these difficult times of financial crisis , our students will be able to “travel” abroad, as flat 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.
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143
We all realize that,teaching in the primary classroom, is very different from teaching teens or adults, because of the amount of energy children have! Knowing how to channel this energy, will help us achieve balanced lessons without children becoming over-excited on the one hand or bored on the other.
One tool to manage this is, Drama/acting out.
As an English teacher, I have often been amazed at how effective drama is to capture the attention of the students in the EFL classroom. We cannot only teach grammar and phonetics with drama ,but also it has the power to transform the student-actors ,as well as the audience. Therefore, we shouldn’t underestimate this powerful teaching tool, to reach our students.
I personally love the use of masks and puppets, in my YL classes!
Puppets or masks can really bring alive a dialogue, role-play or story.
Make simple masks out of paper plates for main characters. Bring in realia and props for children to use for acting out e.g. some real money and a bag for shopping. Have a dressing up box of simple props such as hats, glasses etc. Puppets or finger puppets can be used to liven up even the most boring dialogue, especially when accompanied by funny voices!
In my classes, puppetry works like this: using various odds and ends (paper, glue, cotton, wool etc), each child makes a simple puppet and describes its character to the rest of the class. When several puppets have been described in this way, the children work together in groups to produce a scene using the characters. They could alternatively make puppets of characters in their (course book) -one word-and enact dialogues from the book. (Hand puppets can be made using old socks, stick puppets with ice-cream sticks.)
Generally taking, I firmly believe that, we need to use drama more in the schools. The language can be used in context and makes it come to life. Drama has the potential of making the learning experience fun for the students and even memorable because it is interactive and visual.
The personal nature of improvisation, provides many outlets for self-expression. We all know that, children need to play as an important developmental process.
What is more, drama puts the teacher in the role of supporter in the learning process and the students can take more responsibility for their own learning.
The play acting can help to relieve the tension of learning in a second language.
The shyness and fear of using English, very often blocks learning. When the students are having fun, they tend to relax and stop blocking out the new language.
Role-playing is a powerful tool,too. It teaches cooperation, empathy for others, decision making skills and encourages an exchange of knowledge between the students. These aspects alone make role-playing beneficial because the students are learning from each other. Apart from the obvious development of communication skills, it encourages leadership, team work, compromise, authentic listening skills .
The benefits of drama to develop the imagination should not be undervalued. In our rote school routines of memorization and compulsory subject matter, we sometimes do not spend enough time on encouraging our students to use their imagination.
We need imagination to make a better world. In order to accomplish anything worthwhile, we first need to imagine and dream it. I always emphasize my students that fact!
I also tell them that, in life, we are all playing many roles, therefore, we are wearing many masks.Older students,easily understand this.
Few tested methods for incorporating Drama in the EFL class , summarised
Act out the Dialogue
One of the easiest ways to incorporate drama in the classroom is to have students act out the dialogue from their textbooks. Simply pair them up, have them choose roles, then work together to act out the dialogue, figuring out for themselves the “blocking,” or stage movements.
Perform Reader’s Theater
Another good beginning exercise is to do Reader’s Theater. Hand out copies of a short or one-act play, have students choose roles, and then read the play from their seats without acting it out. However, do encourage them to read dramatically, modeling as necessary.It’s an alternative and fun way of practicing reading aloud, as well!
Act out the Story
This is particularly effective with “short-shorts”: brief, one-scene stories with limited characters.
Write the Dialogue for a Scene
Watch a brief clip of a cartoon movie without the sound on. Have older students write a simple dialogue for it and act it out.
Act out and Put Words to an Emotion
Give students an emotion, such as “anger” or “fear”. Have students, either singly or in groups, first act out that emotion then put words to the emotion.
Give “Voice” to an Inanimate Object
What would a stapler say if it could talk? Or an apple? Have students write monologues with inanimate objects as the character. Hamlet’s “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy might also be termed a monologue, for example.
After writing them, students can read the monologues aloud.
Create a Character
Have students develop a character, writing a one-page profile on the character’s background, appearance, personality, etc. Have them introduce the character to the class, explaining what interests them about their character.
Write a Monologue
Using the character they’ve already developed, have students write a monologue for that character then perform it.
Have students act out short scenes without dialogue. The rest of the class then supplies the dialogue, developing the “script.”
In role playing, the participants are assigned roles which they act out in a given scenario.
Put students in groups of two or three, and assign the characters and the situation to the groups.Students create the dialogue and movement themselves.
With careful planning, use of drama enhances our English classroom curriculum and adds fun in our teaching!
Drama encourages adaptability, fluency, and communicative competence .
“The Wizard of Oz”:School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions
” Alice in Wonderland”:School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.
” Interviewing….Barbie”: ‘Pretend games’ are a central part of a child’seducation. When they dress up as a princess,they become a princess.
I always encourage my students to use short plays, skits or other drama activities to present their projects in class. Here,….. Hurem, Sultan Suleiman’s wife is being interviewed about her life in the harem !! Improvisation works miracles! Kids, decide about their costumes and they write their own lines…..
The Greek education system has been criticized over the years by Greek people for various issues, like difficulty levels of the exams during Panhellenic Examinations, number of teaching hours in schools etc.”
I personally, teach Primary.
In Greece, Primary schools are called “Dimotiko” (demotic, meaning municipal), a carryover term from a time when such schools were run by local communities. The name remains although it has been obsolete for decades. In the first two years pupils are not officially graded, and parents obtain feedback about their performance via oral communications with teachers. Grading begins in Year 3, and written exams are introduced in Year 5. Graduating from one year to the next is automatic, and pupils with deficient performance are given remedial tutoring. Years are called “classes”, from first to sixth.
Enrollment to the next tier of compulsory education, the Gymnasium, is automatic.”
My experience and few facts
I have been working in a State/Public School, for more than 20 years . I have also worked in Private Schools, Private Language Institutions/Schools, Technological Educational Institutes (T.E.I.), Vocational education and training Schools.
Generally talking, there can be heard and seen lots of facts that show people’s disappointment by the Greek Education System.
Many people claim that Greek schools’ role does little to help them make use of their abilities in life.
In Greece, students often have lodged complaints about the teaching and grading system of their teachers.
More than 90% of Greek schools are public and over 90% of all pupils in Greece attend a public institution. The Greek Constitution grants free public education to all citizens, including immigrants who live in Greece permanently. All students are provided with free textbooks and free transport if they live far from the school.
Public education is certainly advantageous from a financial point of view, but may lack the necessary technical infrastructure and organization present in private schools.
Another important issue which is causing disturbance in many Greek families is the existence of paid private classes named frontistiria (φροντιστήρια) whose attendance by the Greek students has become a necessity in order for them to be able to achieve high grades and succeed in their exams. This is a phenomenon noticed especially as the student approaches the 3rd grade of upper high school because of the high difficulty of the Panhellenic Examinations. It has been an object of criticism due to the high fees that most Greek families are called to pay, thus deviating from the concept of a free and accessible education for everyone.
On the other hand, a system that is deprived of resources (school libraries, computer labs, modern buildings, adequate play spaces, etc) can only depend so much on the creative potential of the teachers. A lot of articles have been written on the starving students, lack of books, heating, electricity, copy paper, etc.
The system is starved. What do we expect the teachers to do with just a basal in their hands?
ELT in Greek Primary Schools and the English Teacher
Many years ago, the introduction of foreign language instruction in the early state primary
education was expected to limit or even replace private language tuition. Far from such
expectations, however, the number of private language institutes in Greece more than
tripled ,during the last decades, as private language tuition seems to have become
the norm rather than the exception.
The data of the Ministry of Education show that currently there are more than 7,350 language schools in the
country. The fact is that state schools provide fewer contact hours and less intensive courses
than private language institutes… this may be one of the reasons why parents tend to believe
that foreign languages are better learned at private language institutes.
Teachers of English in Greece are expected to be highly proficient in the language they teach
and quite well versed in current teaching methodologies. However, university courses in
methodology seem to place more emphasis on raising student teachers’ awareness of
different methods and approaches to language teaching rather than providing an
educational background of pedagogical principles .
Contrary to what might be expected, the introduction of English language teaching in
primary education has had very little influence on the programme of studies of the relevant
university departments! Consequently, even today, the pedagogical education of English
language teachers seems to be quite limited.
According to my dear Greek colleague Vivi Hamilou, on her blog post :
“Can we really expose Greek EFL learners in public primary schools to experiential learning (learning by doing and making meaning from having a direct, personal experience)? I couldn’t really answer that by saying just a ‘yes’, or ‘no’. We work in public schools with outdated and or inadequate facilities, we only have 3 45-minute sessions with our learners per week at best, transporting learners to the appropriate place for experiential learning to place costs a lot … I could go on forever, but would I only be making excuses?”
Unfortunately, the constant changes in the Greek education
system and political instability have affected TEYL in the country.
Language teachers in Greece, whether in the private or public sector, are not offered pre- or
in-service training, which is vital for the development of any educator. The
present situation results in new language teachers beginning their career
confused and lost. Because of their lack of self-confidence language educators
resort to teacher-centred approaches which they imitate from their own
experience as students as will be discussed (Giannikas, 2013a).
Language teachers in state schools carry the stereotype of the
demotivated educator with limited will of professional development due to the
security they feel once commencing a career in the public sector. During
interviews, however, state school teachers made it a point to emphasize the
extent to which they take pride in their work. Those who have been in the
profession longer claim that they have grown exhausted of the constant
criticism they endure, since they feel they are not the ones to blame. They
believe to be neglected lacking basic facilities and an updated course-book.
They have not received training and are currently struggling with various
teaching approaches suggested by the Ministry of Education. The fact that
teachers have had no guidance to make any new adjustments to their practice,
has increased their hesitation in introducing their own teaching material,
changing teaching approaches or even applying a different seating layout
Greek Primary Schools -Can we make a difference?
On the other hand, I work in Primary and I know first hand that, many English Teachers in Greece, use all the above as excuses ….
And I personally, hate excuses!
I strongly believe, we should never complain, in life, in general !
I never do!
After all, my motto is….”when there is a will, there is a way” !
Even if things are not ideal, we teachers can do our best, with what we have.
For me, the key word, when it comes to teaching YL is CREATIVITY- Not school resources and Ministry policies!
Creativity makes a huge difference. Creativity is vital for any classroom to be successful. Creativity can make the difference in our ELT even under the most difficult circumstances! Especially, in State Schools.
Although formal training will help you develop as a teacher, it’s important to connect with others in our field. Inspiration can come from the big-name speakers and writers, but just as often, it comes from teachers like you and me.
It’s never been easier to find inspiring teachers to follow on Facebook, Twitter and in the blogosphere. We can follow and read their blogs, we can join a Teachers Association and attend talks and workshops, live or online.
You can start a teaching journal or a blog. I have!
The act of blogging and describing your teaching ideas generates conversations with other teachers, and those conversations stimulate more ideas!
Learning about other things is important too. Creative teachers bring more to class than just a knowledge of teaching.
A sure-fire way to burn out as a teacher is, to stick to the same ideas and techniques without trying something new. This approach is bound to demotivate your students at some point too.
According to my favourite High School teacher, Vasilis Siouzoulis, our role as English Teachers, regardless the circumstances and the objections , is to inspire , to groom conscientious, focused, purposeful students who will combine efforts with already laid brass tracks to build a great world.
Being a teacher means being there, giving everything I can, making sure I am as knowledgeable as I can be about my content and about my students’ lives; it means sacrifice for the sake of helping kids in need and it means caring about students unconditionally. I am not a teacher for me–We are teachers for our students. When teaching becomes about us, I think , we will know, it is time to stop teaching. Being a teacher is exciting, enjoyable, and REWARDING! There’s nothing more rewarding for a teacher than to 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!
My most favourite quote, comes from Albert Einstein:
If the longing for the goal is powerfully alive within us, then we shall not lack the strength to find the means for reaching the goals!