Monday, January 2, 2012

Romeo and Juliet, June 2011

This was my most ambitious project so far. I had two main casts; Juliet was played by a Russian-speaking girl playing a Latina, and a Somali boy playing a Somali boy; the other Romeo was a Latino, playing a Muslim, and Juliet was played by an Ethiopian girl playing a Latina... Our main accent was not so much as family feud, but racial and religous predjudice. It was a powerful tool to make my students see their own narrowness of mind and by thinking about it, discussing and bringing it to the stage, overcome them - and hopefully, help others do the same. Oh, the hush in the audience when the sheikh says the morning prayer in Arabic!

Many months after students still talk about this play... it touched them, and I am happy...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Midsummer Night's Dream

We have run 3 very good shows this week. I have had a great cast. Three students abandoned ship on the first day - we had to make quick changes, but the show must go on! And so, one of the girls cast as Starvelling doubled as a fairy - luckily, she practiced the Ribbon Dance as an understudy. The boy who played Quince delivered lines for Snout/Wall, and a former student was dragged out of the audience to play Snug/Lion. To tell the truth, without the two young men who were supposed to play Snug and Snout, the performance went better. Why? Perhaps the people who were on stage were fully committed...
From all of this there is a valuable learning: have as many understudies as possible!
The highlight of the show: a most talented actress Tsega - she should be on professional stage! She lived, she cried, she was Hermia! Both Helena (Nadya) and Hermia (Tsega) were so much into their roles, that their fight turned bloody - Tsega got a scratch and Nadya got a bruise!

Teachers from Korea

It was a very exciting day - I was presenting some of my favorite methods of teaching reading at the University of Washington. My audience was 30 teachers from Korea. It was really incredible how much teachers across the world resemble each other - same high energy, insatiable desire to learn and experience more, constant and deliberate search for new and effective ways of teaching. I felt as if I knew each and every one of these amazing people!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pioneers and First Nations

This summer I was very fortunate to teach a group of almost 60 ESL students a hands-on discovery unit that included elements of Social Studies, Math, Visual Art, Drama and Language. The unit was structured so as to follow a historic route of white settlers to Oregon territory; while traveling, they discovered new lands, plants, Native American tribes and their culture. We used as many real documents and photos as we could find; we read a fiction book "Off to Oregon" (grade 2 difficulty). Students experienced situations and wrote about them. We went on field trips to study local flora. We went to Daybreak Star, Native American Cultural Center. Students researched the art of the native tribes and created blankets based on the symbolic elements used in the North West. The culmination of the project was a presentation on stage for as many as 200 people... we did well... kids loved it!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Reading Rods

These brightl attachable blocks are a great way to teach reading. Parts of speech are color-coded.

Teaching Phonics is useful - at the initial stages
eight:bold;">Stephen D. Krashen
Does Intensive Decoding Instruction Contribute to Reading Comprehension?

Result, not Cause
This conclusion is consistent with the views of Frank Smith (2004) and Kenneth Goodman (see Flurkey and Xu, 2003) who have maintained that our ability to decode complex words is the result of reading, not the cause.
This position does not exclude the teaching of "basic" phonics (Krashen, 2004; Garan, 2004). A small amount of consciously learned knowledge of the rules of phonics can help in the beginning stages to make texts comprehensible, but there are severe limits on how much phonics can be learned and applied because of the complexity of many of the rules (Smith, 2004).
The Reading First Final Report thus confirms the common-sense view that the path to reading proficiency is not through worksheets but through books and stories.