Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The Year Winding Down... Year 7 EAL

This year I've had an EAL(formerly ESL) class, once a week while the other students are doing Italian and Vietnamese. It's a good opportunity for them to focus on their English while the others are doing something there's no point in their doing.

The EAL teacher asked me to do grammar and even supplied a folder earlier in the year. That, of course, ran out and I borrowed some of her grammar books and taught them about everything from nouns to conjunctions and finished classes with a speed spell or a board test to see how they were going, played as a game.

But the year is nearly over. And the kids have different reading levels, from the girl who is with me in the decoding literacy class to a student who is in the Grade 5 literacy group and has read and loved my YA novel! (Yes, it's a YA novel, but a readability test showed that kids with a Grade 5 reading level can still enjoy it). No point in trying to read something together unless there's a follow-up. The second half of the class we go to the library together and watch Behind The News, for which the teacher has provided worksheets at their different levels; I hand those out, but the students don't use them till her class on Friday. They just watch and discuss.

So, what to do this late in the piece? Only one more session together, next week.

I have learned a lot from Creative Writing. I also learned something from doing a workshop with eighty primary school students the other week. That is that there are some things that can be done, and enjoyed, in less than an hour.

We did acrostic poems. First, I gave a demonstration on the board. They liked the word "Summer", so I invited them to think of words connected with summer. After they had suggested quite a few, we did the poem on the board together. I even had one protest at the last line. "How can you ride boats? Make it bikes!"

Then I handed out paper on which to write their own, telling them they could do them in pairs or alone. There are three girls whom we have had to split because of their bad behaviour. They complained, but they did their own.

And you know what? When I put the poems up on the wall later, one of the badly behaved students asked if she might take hers home. I said yes, at the end of the day, as I wanted everyone to see she could do this. She doesn't know how she delighted me by that request!

The work was not exactly professional standard, but it was important to me that they enjoyed and learned something. Acrostics are good because most people can do them. I did have to go around the class and help those having a bit of trouble finding appropriate words. I think it I were to do it again, I might make it a bit more organised - there were some who had a bit of trouble with it. I would lay out coloured pencils to give them a chance to decorate before putting them up on the wall.

But in the end, everyone produced something, which was the main thing. Some produced two or three poems! On the whole, fairly successful.

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