“The Magic of Validation” by Jennifer Gonzalez at Cult of Pedagogy

Today I came across this fantastic, reasonably short, clear, conversational, and insightufl article about the importance of validation in teaching and in all our interactions. Not only does Gonzalez explain what validation is and why it is important, she talks us through a number of concrete examples of situations in which validation can be challenging, and exactly how to approach it. Have a look! The Magic of Validation

Advertisements

What are the responsibilities of a teacher?

I had the privilege during my travels in the States last month to visit a democratic free school (based on the Sudbury model) and a homeschool resource centre. I graduate from a different democratic free school seven years ago (🙀), and I found myself drawing a lot of parallels but noting a few key distinctions.

In both communities, the spaces are clearly student-centred, with couches and large community tables in place of rows of desks. Students have access to shelves and shelves of all different genres of books, musical instruments, computers, art supplies, and other resources. There is a School Meeting once per week in which the community votes on key issues of importance to the community. There is a small Judicial Committee composed of youth and staff that handles small issues that concern just one or a few members of the community.

At this particular democratic free school, to graduate, students must write a thesis demonstrating their readiness to leave the support of the free school community and enter the adult world. One of the staff members pointed out that he would never have been able to do that when he was a senior graduating from high school. It does seem to be a more authentic way of demonstrating one’s readiness to move on to the next stage of life than a bunch of letter or number grades given to you by an authority figure that are supposed to tell you about what facts you have memorised.

Some key differences between these models of education and compulsory schooling: facts (which can be and often are easily forgotten) vs. skills (which will serve us for life), and what to think vs. how to think.

Since August, I have been teaching New Entrants (five-year-olds) in a wonderful, student-centred, progressive school. I adore my colleagues and administration and am fortunate to have a lot of liberty in how my classroom runs. Our syndicate is embracing play-based learning, and there has been a marked shift to supporting skill-building and tamariki (children)’s own inquiry process. I have been trying to work out how much of my unschooling and free school background I can bring into my classroom while still working within a conventional school environment. So that brought me to re-examining what my role is. What is my responsibility as an adult in the classroom?

There is clearly:

Do no harm.

Nurture my children’s natural curiosity.

Facilitate opportunities for deeper inquiry.

Facilitate development of strong social-emotional skills so that tamariki grow up able to articulate their own emotions and successfully navigate conflict with others.

Nurture an environment in which each child feels welcome and supported and sees their culture and identities represented.

What more would you add to this list? What are the concrete actions we are/should be taking to fulfill these responsibilities every day?

What is a poem?

What makes a piece of work a poem versus prose? One of my five-year-old students asked this recently after completing a poem of her own, and even after discussing the question at length all throughout my Poetry Concentration in uni, I didn’t have an answer for her. We talked about different ways that you can communicate, and the rules that apply to one form of writing versus another. Usually it looks different, but not always! Sometimes it rhymes or has a set rhythmic structure or meter, but certainly not always! Her mother told me that in their Japanese cultural understanding, a piece of writing is a poem or not based on the line breaks, I believe. (Very interested in learning more about this, having a hard time finding resources.) What is your understanding of what makes a poem a poem? If the writer calls it a poem, does that make it so, regardless of what it appears to someone else? Or are there particular criteria one must adhere to? Are there, perhaps, a set of a bunch of different sufficient but not necessary criteria, and one must fit at least one or two of them?

28 MORE Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball (2018)

Scott Woods Makes Lists has published a lovely annotated list of some excellent picture books. Educators, families, all humans, head to the library and check some out today! Have some extra cash? Here’s an idea; buy a copy, read it to your kids, and *donate* it to the library so both you and the other kids in your town can have access ❤ 28 MORE Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball (2018)

There is a good range of topics, poetry and prose, and harder and easier reading levels, many accessible for ELLs.

Resources for EFL Small Groups

I recently led a small PD session for beginning educators working with EFL (English as a Foreign Language) small groups, and I wanted to share the resource document I wrote. It’s a collection of activities, organised by learning objective, written with Israeli students ages seven through twelve in mind, but most are adaptable for beginning English students of all ages around the world. Please feel free to share by linking back to this pageand let me know what activities you use and how they go. Please contact me with questions, comments, or suggestions to add or change by commenting below or at madeleinebella [at] gmail [dot] com. Thank you! Here’s the doc: EFL Small Group Resources

Topics: 
Blends and Digraphs
Prepositions
Present Progressive
“To Be” and Other Irregular Conjugations
Pronouns
Contractions
WH- Questions
Past Simple
Comparatives
Spelling
Classroom Management
Additional Resources

FunEnglishGames.com

I love this website for both ELLs and native English speaking students, with resources for the classroom as well as home. Here’s a game to practice close reading of poetry: http://www.funenglishgames.com/readinggames/poem.html

And here is a page full of reading, writing, grammar, spelling, and vocab games for all levels: http://www.funenglishgames.com/games.html

Exploring English idioms and oxymorons could be a fun stimulus for a philosophy discussion on language! http://www.funenglishgames.com/funstuff.html

Have fun and have a great day!

Image result for english

Activity: Make Your Own Bingo

Hi friends! Just wanted to share a fun activity I love to do with students. It’s easily adaptable for small groups of three or more students or a large class. Note: I generally have kids do this in pairs to encourage cooperative learning (at least two students per bingo board). It adds another layer of skill building because they have to talk everything out and agree.

1. Have each student draw a Bingo board on a blank piece of paper, or use my pre-made ones available for free on TPT 🙂 3×3 Bingo Board or 4×4 Bingo Board

2. Write a list of terms on the whiteboard (or a large piece of paper/poster if you don’t have a whiteboard).  This works for almost any set of vocab or ideas that you want to help your students review.  Students must write the words or draw a picture to represent the word in each box. Everyone’s bingo board should look different but have more or less the same words. If you’re including drawings, remind the kids to draw quick sketches, just enough info so that they understand the picture – it’s not an art contest! When the bingo boards are complete, erase the whiteboard (or turn over the poster).

3. Call out the terms in a random order. Children either put a light line through the word when they hear it or use markers if you’d like to re-use the boards. Small pieces of cardstock, small coins, dried broadbeans or lima beans, or even stickers with the backings still on work well (stickers can double as a fun reward when they are finished).

4. 3 in a row/4 in a row wins BUT in order to get credit, the student needs to read each word and define it/spell it/use it. For example, below are some boards my kids created to practice prepositions and WH questions. They had to show me something that was (e.g.) on something else and ask a WH question that made sense. Bonus: Get the rest of the students involved by having them answer the questions and discuss.

Have fun and let me know how you go with your boards! I’d love to see some of the things your students create. 
img_7161.jpg