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

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

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

Cute selfies, on our classroom walls!!

Cute selfies, on our classroom walls!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creative writing

We love creative writing in my class!

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

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

Those meanings we talked about were:

-Friendship

. sympathy

. empathy

. honesty

.mutual understanding

. compassion

. trust

. positive reciprocity

Proud medal holders!

Proud medal holders!

We also mentioned the Meanings of the Paralympic values

-Determination

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

-Equality

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

. discrimination

. prejudice

. bias

. inequality

.unfairness.

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

First, we did some brainstorming about the Olympic ideals.

Brainstorming about the Olympic ideals

Brainstorming about the Olympic ideals

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

Our medals!

Our medals!

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

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

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

Time for a story!

Time for a story!

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

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

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

stories similar / different?

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

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

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

Writing stories , using our imagination ...

Writing stories , using our imagination …

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

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

-Read various books on the Olympics

-Have students write a poem about the Olympics

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

-If I were Olympic Athlete…

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

-Put the sports names in ABC order.

-Write a news report.

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

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

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

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End-of-the-school-year fun activities!

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Some people might think that, an “End-of-the-Year event” may seem unimportant, however it is  VERY IMPORTANT cause,…it’s the end of the school year! The positive memories have an effect on the children’s attitude and last forever!…

This is a time to look back and reflect –as well as a time to think ahead. Additionally, we should be sure to recognize our  graduating students ,in some way!

The ideas below,come from many different sources ! One I can recall   is  http://www.kidactivities.net/

I have tried too many such activities in my teaching career, so far! The ones I am sharing here, are the ones I used  last school year, with huge success! And as I often say, ” It has worked in my class; it might work in your class, too”!

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END OF THE YEAR FUN IDEA for the little ones...

Two nice ideas for younger children

  1.  Hand each student a sheet of paper
  2.  Then have the children draw pictures and write words  of the things they would like to say “goodbye to” in your classroom.
  3.  It’s good “therapy” because we know how hard it can be to say goodbye to our familiar room and friends. When complete… bind it into a program book titled ‘GOODBYE ROOM’.

Grade —– (Or__________ ) HAS BEEN A BALL!

This is a fun and different way to have an autograph party as a remembrance of the time spent in class.

Beach balls are fairly inexpensive–order some from a novelty company-have children blow them up and then get autographs from each other on the balls!

For older students….

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BALLOON TOSS: GOALS FOR THE FUTURE

At your end-of-year lesson, give each child a slip of paper and invite him or her to write one goal for the future.

Have students slip the notes inside balloons and then inflate them. Later, have kids toss balloons (like graduation caps), keeping one to pop and share its (anonymously) written message aloud –with the rest of the group.

(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)

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THANKS FOR THE COMPLIMENT (A nice way to end the school year!)

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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. . (Adjust for a larger group)

This is a great self-esteem booster! 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.

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AUTOGRAPH BOOK

At the end of the year have each child make an autograph book. They pass around their books and get everyone’s signatures and friendly notes for a summer keepsake.

Variation:You can ask them to decorate  their own summer postcards and ask all their classmates to write a personal comment and sign on them.

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One very favourite activity, I always do:

 TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS DURING THE YEAR and put together a slide show.

  1.   I  show this as PART OF A YEAR-END SCHOOL EVENT—but it would also be a wonderful “WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION to the new children we will have the next school year.
  2.  You could use it to show children and families some of the things you do-how they’re done–and what to expect! If you haven’t started, get your slides, videos, and activity scrapbooks going now!

Here’s the link to our last year’s slide show I have already posted about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vr9-iFULcMo[/embed]

 

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WRITE YOURSELF A LETTER

At the end of the school year, have students write themselves a letter. Tell them that no one but they will read this letter so they can say anything they want in it. However, part of that letter might include who their friends are, their current height and weight, favorite movies and music, and special things both good and bad that occurred during the year, summer plans…

Variation: Every year, i have  them write me letters, as well!

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On another sheet of paper or the back of that sheet ask students to write ten goals they would like to accomplish by this time next year (or sooner). Students seal this letter in an envelope, self-address it, and give it to you. In a year (or sooner) mail (or return in person) the letters  to the students.

I loved this idea the very moment my NLP mentor Bonnie Tsai, asked us to do something similar in the end of our summer course at Pilgrim’s, Canterbury,  Kent, three years ago!

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A LETTER TO PARENTS AT THE END OF THE YEAR…

I always send letters to the parents in the end of each school year, both in Greek and in English.

This is the letter in English I sent them last school year.

“Dear Parents,

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.”

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MURAL OF MEMORIES

On a nice day–take this activity outside!

Use paints, markers or colored chalk and invite children to create a mural illustrating the many wonderful things your group did, saw, and learned this year. It will be a great “advertisement” for next year’s program or class. (Don’t forget to hang it up when the new school year starts!) I personally, decided to do something alternative with it last school year: I used it to wrap up our class post box!!

As an extension, you can have your group write about the favorite memories they drew.

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END OF THE YEAR BULLETIN BOARD AUTOGRAPHS

BONUS! The board is up and ready to go during the first week of school!

  • Remove what is currently on your Board such as art projects, etc. LEAVE UP Bulletin Board Backgrounds and Borders.
  • During the week BEFORE the last week of school, ask a talented student artist (or do this yourself!) to block letter the words: “HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!” on your bulletin board background paper.
  • Have several children color in the letters…
  • As the days get closer to the end, have youth autograph and write messages on the bulletin board paper.
  • With younger students, ask them to write words and draw pictures of what they have enjoyed the most during the school year!
  • Leave their NAMES AND MESSAGES up for everyone to appreciate.
  • When you return for the new school year you’ll be starting off with one area already decorated with POSSITIVE MESSAGES!
  • No bulletin board area? Get a long piece of butcher roll-paper and do the same…(Actually, this is what I did..)
  • The kids will like reading what they and others left a couple months back!

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This activity is similar to this one…

I REMEMBER WHEN…

Put up the caption in big letters on your bulletin board or butcher paper taped to the wall— and then have children “decorate” it by writing things that they enjoyed doing in your program the past year!

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A SUMMER LAPBOOK

I just love lapbooks! You can read about my first lapbooks in this previous post:

https://aphrogranger.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/our-first-lapbook/

Lapbooks are made of file folders that are folded into a shutter flap so it opens up. Inside you have mini booklets that have a question or theme and the answers are inside. There are a variety of ways a booklet can be folded to demonstrate a topic.

They are really fun and my visual learners love lapbooks since we were introduced to them last year.

There are loads of topics that you can cover in your summer lapbook. I find that because I want to cover a broad topic, it’s nice to take bits and pieces from different lapbooks or it may be easier to create your own.

If you have never completed a lapbook, I suggest doing a free one yourself , to see how you like it.

Make a list of what you would like to cover and teach. Ask your children what they would like to learn. This will get them more involved and excited about their project as well.

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Last but not least: THE-END-OF-THE-SCHOOL-YEAR (graduating students) SHOW

I love staging mini-musicals at the end of each school year!

School Musicals

Enthusiastic audience!!

Enthusiastic audience!!

School musicals and music TV show parodies, offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions. It has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more. School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

Taking part in a school musical or Tv parody  production, has many benefits for children – increased self-esteem, the development of their dramatic and musical talents, and the opportunity to learn about working together as part of a team.

I find ideas in our library English Readers or in different  books or sites such as

http://www.childrenstheatreplays.com/schoolplays.htm

Here are some examples of what we have staged during the last few years!

Starting with this year’s TV talent show parody “The Voice”!

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Our coaches and show presenters

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My students seem to remember these end-of-the-year shows, for..ever!

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Dancing, singing, improvisation ….all their talents in action!!

"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

“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.

” Alice in Wonderland”:School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

" The Wizard of Oz": A School musical, has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more.

” The Wizard of Oz”: A School musical, has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more.

Our sixth graders musical every year, is a huge success! Both the kids and their parents are looking so much forward to it!

Our sixth graders musical every year, is a huge success! Both the kids and their parents are looking so much forward to it!

 

"Your face sounds familiar- A concert": Music, is an essential part in musical performances! It helps my students reveal their inner talents!

“Your face sounds familiar- A concert”: Music, is an essential part in musical performances! It helps my students reveal their inner talents!

 

" Your face sounds familiar-A concert": The FUN element of ELT music shows, is is obvious in this photo!!

” Your face sounds familiar-A concert”: The FUN element of ELT music shows, is is obvious in this photo!!

 

" A Eurovision song contest parody": Here's an Improvisation end-of-the-school year concert which we all just LOVED! In the photo, Agathonas Iakovides and Coza Mostra in...Eurovision 2013!!

” A Eurovision song contest parody”: Here’s an Improvisation end-of-the-school year concert which we all just LOVED! In the photo, Agathonas Iakovides and Coza Mostra in…Eurovision 2013!!

ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!

LET’S RECHARGE OUR BATTERIES AND GET READY FOR ANOTHER AMAZING SCHOOL YEAR!!

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Working on picture books

Collaboration in writing

Collaboration in writing

Most teachers tend to think that, writing is better done for  homework individually…I don’t!

When writing is done in class,  as a collaborative activity, it can have many of the same benefits of a group speaking activity:

Discussing the writing process obviously provides more opportunities for learners to interact in English, a benefit in itself.

Collaborative writing can also be a lot of fun! Especially, when it is related to pictures!

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To start with, have students draw their own pictures or bring in photos. Or, you can provide pictures for them from books,  magazines, the internet and other sources.

Jigsaw writing   is a way of structuring collaborative writing, so that the process is clearly defined. This works well with picture stories or cartoon strips. I put students into small groups and read them a book story showing them the pictures at the same time….Then, I hand each group, photocopies of the book story and ask them  to write a paragraph- or simple sentences, for my junior students- describing what is happening or happened in their picture(s).

Putting the pictures in the right order to create their story book

Putting the pictures in the right order to create their story book

Then, I  regroup the students into larger groups so that there is someone in each group who has written about each of the pictures, and ask them to decide on the correct order of the pictures and make any changes necessary to turn their paragraphs- sentences, into a coherent whole. Students can then read and compare the different versions of the story!

An artistic touch...

An artistic touch…

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Each student, makes his book look unique!

Another idea is, to throw all the book  pictures or any other pictures available…. up  in the air(!) , and when all the pictures land on the floor, ask the groups of  students to collect any pictures they like more, decide on the order they wish the pictures to be and finally, collaboratively write sentences for each one of the pictures and make a new story!

Finally, they can be  asked  to share their stories with the other groups of story writers and make comments.

We can use pictures from books

We can use pictures from books

In the next lesson, they can then put the pictures  together to make their own small book. Ask them to colour it, and give it a name, too …. This is a great motivator for the students. They will enjoy reading their books and will be looking  forward to writing more. You could also let them take their books home to share their stories, and new writing skills, with their families.

One of our picture books covers

One of our picture books covers

 

With older students, one really fun  activity is  the following:  give students a short amount of time to draw an abstract picture (this works better if you have some crayons or markers ready to go). Tape all the pictures to the wall. Students then have to write a short paragraph giving the picture a title and describing what they think is happening in the picture. The fun comes after all of the paragraphs have been written. Students then try and link up which paragraph matches which picture. This usually results in a lot of mismatches and quite a bit of laughter. If there’s time left, it can also lead into a good conversation about modern art in general. I usually, ask the groups of students, to take their  pictures back   and write a  ….science fiction story book ,using all of their pictures in any order they prefer and share with the class

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I like having a group of different level students composing a story together. It can be so useful, efficient and rewarding. Useful for everyone: weaker students have their peers helping them in a non threatening environment. They have time, they dare to ask for more explanation, they won’t shy away when something’s not clear. The stronger students can only solidify their knowledge! It’s efficient because instead of one teacher dragging along 15 students, then correcting 15 different stories, what we get is a cluster of groups working on their own and producing one hopefully well-polished writing in the end!

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Younger students, are asked to write only one or two sentences for each picture.

And it’s rewarding – classroom time has been used efficiently and there is an end product everyone has contributed to.

I think collaborative writing using pictures, can be a really good way of getting students to write ‘by stealth’ but you do have to be careful that it doesn’t just end up with the stronger writers doing all the work…

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There are many more  activities that can be used which give children a realistic reason to write. Whatever activity we choose to use should be one that is motivating and that taps into your students’ interests.

P.S. 
I have recently been introduced to Storybird. It looks fantastic, although I haven’t had much chance to explore it yet. It has beautiful artwork that you can use to make stories. If anyone has used it in class I would love to hear of your experience!

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Real FUN games -part a

Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to young children can be a stressful, pulsating nightmare of runny noses, drool and hysterical crying (and then there are the kids).

So it’s important to have a repertoire of simple, easy -to-play games up your sleeve for those days when your usual teaching ideas and practices , don’t work.

The games and activities  below are FUN, old time favourites for me!

The fashion show

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To practise the order of adjectives, the students become …models !!

They take turns and walk like fashion models on the catwalk!

The other students use opinion, colour, material etc adjectives, to describe what the model is wearing and make comments on his/her clothes!

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Example: She’s wearing a cute, pink, woollen sweater! It suits her!

He is wearing  smart, dark blue,denim jeans! They match his t-shirt!

Chain drawings

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Each player has a sheet of paper and begins by drawing the head of a person as far as the neck.

All the players, fold the top of the sheet over to hide the head , leaving just the neck showing. They then, passes  his  sheet on to the next person who draws the body including the arms but not the hands!The paper is folded again with just the waist and wrists left  showing and the papers are passed on..This time the player draws the legs down to the knee and the hands. Finally, the player draws the lower legs and feet!

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The papers are passed on for the last time and the players unfold their pictures for everyone to enjoy!

We compare and contrast out pictures, we describe them in detail  and have loads of laugh!

 

 

Story circle

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Each player writes the opening line of a story at the top of his sheet of paper. I give them instructions about what to write each time.

First they have to write ” the name and surname of a man we all know, and some characteristics of him” He  can be a famous athlete an  artist or even a teacher or a classmate!

All the players, fold the top of the sheet over to hide what’s written and pass their sheet on to the next person.

The second sentence is about ” a woman we all know and some characteristics of her”

They fold again and pass it on.

The third sentence is about ” where they first met and how”

The fourth one is  about ”  HIS first words to her ”

The fifth sentence , about” HER  reply or reaction ”

The next one about ” what happened next”

On the last round each player must write a sentence to end the story! The final sentence is about  ” what happened in the end”…was it a happy ending or not?

It’s pure fun when we read our stories aloud!

It’s also a way for me to spot weaknesses in their writing…To  find out what grammatical/vocabulary  mistakes students are making in general! I usually ask them to do this activity during the first week at school, especially with a new class..!

The writing half hour

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Once a month, I introduce a writing half hour when students -6th graders- aren’t allowed to talk and can communicate only in writing!

I explain that:

for the next 30 minutes, students can communicate with everyone in the classroom and communicate about anything but, are not allowed to talk, only write.The things that they write will not be individually corrected!

The purpose of this activity is to give students confidence and practice in writing.

I answer any questions that students may have .

I carry around paper myself and write notes and questions to my students!

It is a good chance to ask individual questions that they might not feel safe talking about at other times!

“Hi, Maria. I noticed that you look a bit tired today.Are you feeling o.k?”

” Paul, you looked confused when we studied the simple past last week. Do you need more help with this?’

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Don’t be surprised if students are a little bewildered at first.

In later weeks, I give them tasks to perform during the half hour.For example, I ask the girls to find out if boys in class enjoy a particular sport/activity   more than them!

At the end of each activity, I collect all the papers and find out what grammatical mistakes students are making in general.But, I make sure I don’t tell an individual student what mistakes he or she has made , as this may inhibit, his desire to communicate.

It can make a welcome break in noisy classes!

To be continued….

Our english- handwritten-magazine.

Need more than a month to collect all students' work

Need more than a month to collect all students’ work

Each issue of our handwritten magazine, for more than 10 years now,  offers new treasures for my students : stories, poems, book reviews, and artwork in a variety of styles and genres…….A great motivator for reading and writing…

One of our magazine covers...the picture was found in our old english books!our magazine is always sent to our pen pals abroad, as well!

One of our magazine covers…the picture was found in our old english books!our magazine is always sent to our pen pals abroad, as well!

It’s  is actually a motivator, for all language  skills!

In many ways a student magazine is the ideal project for language learning. There is a clearly-defined end product while there is also plenty of room for choice regarding content. The students can focus on individual interests such as sport, computers, the Environment, music, etc. – with obvious motivational benefits – while at the same time working within a clear structure to a common aim. The ‘four skills’ of reading, writing, listening and speaking are integrated naturally. For example in order to produce an article on music a student might:

a) Read articles in a music magazine to get ideas (reading)

b) Listen to songs and write down the lyrics (listening / writing)

c) Write survey questions and interview other students about their musical tastes / talents (writing / speaking / listening)

Contents vary...I give the students lots of ideas before they start writing.

Contents vary…I give the students lots of ideas before they start writing.

A great motivator for reading and writing...

A great motivator for reading and writing…

Benefits

It provides integrated skills practice

It provides integrated skills practice

Within the overall school context a magazine is useful in providing a focus for written work: students know that a particularly ‘good’ piece of writing might go into the magazine. This potential for communication with a real audience provides motivation and encourages attention to style and accuracy. Students have a chance to practice a variety of text types – articles, reviews, letters, crosswords, cartoons, graphs and tables. Decisions about content provide a forum for discussion and negotiation. Finally, in common with all project work, learner autonomy and co-operation are fostered as students try out different roles and learn to get on with their peers. To sum up, a student magazine:

  • provides integrated skills practice
  • allows students to contribute each according to their ability and interests
  • provides a focus for written work
  • encourages attention to style and accuracy
  • provides a discussion and negotiation forum
  • encourages learner autonomy, co-operation and motivation

    Drawbacks

It allows students to contribute each according to their ability and interests

It allows students to contribute each according to their ability and interests

  • With so many benefits it is a wonder that EFL classes do anything else! However there are disadvantages. First, the very fact that students are able to concentrate upon individual areas of interest means they might neglect other areas. For example, a student with artistic talent may spend some time illustrating the magazine, but not practicing much English. Motivated students may end up doing all the work while less motivated students do very little.
Handwritten comics: imagination is very important.

Handwritten comics: imagination is very important.

  • Because of the high cost, I have many times thought about   running  our magazine as a mini business some day in the future,  with students working out costs and selling it on the course .. the better the magazine, the more students would buy it; the fewer the pages, the higher the profit. For the time being, I have been… sponsoring our class magazine, myself using money earned from our school Bazaar! I distribute it to students -writers only, free of charge of course, to take it home…I also, keep a couple of copies in our school English bookcase and I make sure that I send a copy to our pen pals abroad, too!
For the time being, I have been... sponsoring our class magazine, myself using money earned from our school Bazaar!

For the time being, I have been… sponsoring our class magazine, myself using money earned from our school Bazaar!

  • Conclusion                                                                                  
  •   As a general comment, based on my experience so far, school  magazines are useful in many ways. They have a great educative value. They encourage the students to think and write. So they develop their writing skills and talent. They also develop their power of thinking and strengthen their imagination. In this way the general knowledge of the students increases and they acquire the habit of reading and writing. School  magazines also teach the students the value of co-operation and encourage healthy competition. They are a source of self-help and self-confidence for students. Students find real joy when they see their names published in the school  magazines, respectively. Besides, school magazines are interesting for the ex-students of the school. They read articles and their memory of the past days becomes fresh again. These magazines are a means of bringing the ex-students and all the members of the school in touch with one another.                                                                                                   .  P.S 
  • Our bookcase is also,  full of many english magazines which  are free  for students to borrow,such as the Scholastic ELT readers- http://maryglasgowplus.com/book_lists/4204. which I find fascinating!
  • Having read the amazing English newspaper  by Vivi Hamilou’s students, lately, at the Primary School of Pteleos , Greece ( http://blogs.sch.gr/vivihamilou/2011/04/17/english-school-newspaper-%E2%80%93-issue-3-%E2%80%93-primary-school-of-pteleos/ ) which   who has been involved in an eTwinning project that includes exchanging English school newspapers with other European Primary Schools, I have been thinking about taking a similar step with our magazine in the near future, too!

A Christmas Quotes tree ( and 2 more ideas)

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Well, it was my idea a couple of years ago, to have my 6th graders decorate a DIFFERENT Christmas tree , practicing their english at the same time!

I  therefore, made two Christmas Trees ( one, for each of my  classes) using card and put them up on the classroom walls!

I browsed the net and came up with hundreds of famous people’s quotes about Christmas . Later, I  prepared  handouts with them on, and asked my students to go home, read them all, decide about their favourite ones and justify their choices in class during our next  lesson!

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A class discussion followed about what’s really important in life, what Christmas is or should be about, about  life priorities, life values, family, consumerism….and many more topics!

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They just loved it  !

I ask them  to do about the same, every year…..I always provide them with the templates where they write their favourite quotes. I ask them to decorate them and make them look unique  before  we all together , decorate our Christmas trees with them!I’d like to share a couple of my favourite quotes with you all….

” I stopped believing in Santa when I was six.Mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph!” Shirley Temple

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under the christmas tree” Roy L. Smith

“At Christmas play and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year” Thomas Tusser

“Christmas ….is  a piece of one’s home that one carries in one’s heart” Freya Stark

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Another idea, I used a few years ago for some time was a Students Photos Christmas tree, outside our classroom: I stick all the students  photos on paper ornaments and asked them to write their wishes or New Year Resolutions on them, before I put them up on our Christmas tree…

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Last year, I decided to use a smaller Christmas tree in the classroom decorated with flags from all the different countries my students or  members of their families come from!  Our International Class Christmas Tree!

I plan to do this again, some year soon…brings the class together!

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Class Letter Box

Writing , is really important in my classes! Writing for a purpose and addressing real people, writing for a reason, has always been crucial in my teaching!

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In my classroom, there is always a letter box, where,  students ,during the week, can drop a letter to me or their classmates. They are asked to write in english only, and everybody who receives a letter should reply ! We open the letter box and deliver mail, every last lesson of the week !

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They look  so much forward to it!

I always make sure, I have a glance at each letter before I hand it to the recipient, just to make sure it’s written in english and/or doesn’t contain any …bad language or insulting comments!

The letter box is what  I also use the very first day in class,to drop my students my first letter , writing about how excited I am to be with them , my expectations, hopes, wishes and comments!

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The students, are asked to reply , writing about  their goals , asking  me about anything they want to know, or just share their feelings! They are told that, every letter will be answered and no letter will be read in public- of course..! I want them to be free to share anything that troubles or excites  them!

It’s surprising that, most of them, feel the need to share even personal stuff, fears, anxieties and  even ask for advice about problems and concerns they might face!

My reply letters are  short, encouraging and really positively inspired!

They are always so excited when the post box opens!

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This is where they find their foreign pen friends  letters, too! The one above, comes from Taiwan !

They  even use the letter box , to drop the special  note they are asked to  complete at the end of each lesson , on a volunteer basis,about what they have  learned, a question they still have or something that is still not clear to them after the lesson and needs to be explained  ..

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This is great feedback for me! I always answer  all  notes  I receive!

Build your students'self-esteem through praise and affirmations

Build your students’self-esteem through praise and affirmations