Giving is Caring

Always remember:

The value of time, the success of perseverance, the worth of character, the power of kindness, the influence of example, and the obligation of duty.

Friday, 5 October 2012

On October 3rd 2012, SM and University of Dayton Publishing presented Ready, Steady, Grow, a presentation for Primary teachers whose presenter was Ms. Izabella Hearn.
Izabella´s presentation was really a workshop since it was full of practical ideas for teaching but not only that, it also provided the rationale behind the activities which is an issue that is sometimes forgotten in other such events. I truly believe that a good presentation is more than to keep people entertained, the coffee break and the freebies that are given at the end. It is the personal and professional quality of the presenter that allows us, attendees to take away inspiring ideas and urge us to try these out in the classroom adapting them to suit our own contexts. In other words, it is not what the publisher or the organizer gives us, it is what we take away with us that matters and Izabella gave plenty of opportunities to do so.
Since the workshop was intended for pre-primary and primary students most of the activities were geared to using CLIL, VAKOG (sensory learning), MI (multiple intelligences) and using both brain hemispheres.
Chants were provided that had to be sung with movement and rhythm, endlessly repeated since little kids love the safety of familiarity. There was room for exploiting pictures to create stories, to allow children to create their own stories, to sing after that. Izabelle provided ideas to practice pronunciation by asking students to imagine that the back of one of their peers is an imaginary board and to draw the morpheme of the sound while producing it and writing the letter in the air at the same time students repeat the sound so as to activate learning. For the same purpose, a song can be chosen to practise the critical sound and by dividing the class in two groups teachers can ask one half to stand up and the other to sit down any time they listen to the sound.
For VAKOG, she added olfactory and gustatory input to the already known visual, auditory and kinesthetic and mentioned the power of visualization so if the lesson is on fruits, it is not always necessary to bring realia to the class every time you teach that topic but to ask students to imagine the fruit, imagine (or remember) the smell, the colour, the weight, etc. until they complete the picture in their minds. Additionally, students can create their own fruits and teachers can empower them by making them experts in their invented fruits.
One of the most interesting activities, in my opinion, was to ask students to stand in pairs and for one minute Student A would ask as many questions as possible bearing in mind that they should be content questions not Yes-No. For instance, What sports do you practice? When was the last time you read a book? What is your favourite kind of films?, etc. Student B would just listen and when the minute is over, S/he had to remember some of the questions and answer them or - and I love this part- s/he could choose to answer only one question in as much detail as s/he wished. Brilliant! Intended listening, real communication and a better atmosphere was created during and after the activity. Since the questions asked are personal, students get to know each other better and the likelihood of bullying or any other classroom disturb is avoided because it is human nature not to hurt people you know or you have things in common.
Time was really short for all the activities she presented in spite of starting at 4:30 and finishing at around 8:00 p.m. but it certainly was worth every single minute. I would like to finish with this quote that, I believe, sums up the aim of her presentation: "If the child is not learning the way you are teaching, then teach the way children are learning".


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