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Messages - ahellberg

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Complete Reading and/or Writing Units / Unit: The Giver
« on: May 12, 2017, 06:58:55 PM »
Attached is a unit for The Giver!

Harry Potter Lessons! / Integrating Pottermore into Harry Potter Units
« on: April 28, 2017, 09:50:44 PM »
For anyone unfamiliar, is a site created by JK Rowling to accompany the Harry Potter world.  It is extremely interactive, and I think could have a lot of benefits when used in conjuncture with a Harry Potter extensive Reading unit. 

One idea that I had is involving vocabulary development, specifically character traits and adjectives.  In Harry Potter, there are four houses that students can be sorted into, and each has a very distinct set of qualities.  For example, Ravenclaw house is described as "witty, intelligent, wise".  These are all good adjectives to describe people, and would make for an excellent vocabulary lesson. 

On Pottermore, students can create an account and take a quiz to see which house they are in.  In class, students could then group by houses and describe their qualities and characteristics.  They could also work with students who were sorted into other houses to learn additional descriptive vocabulary. 

I think having the integration of technology and a very interactive site could help bring in students who are not passionate readers, and also appeal to different learning styles.

Pedagogy Issues / Teaching old dogs new tricks
« on: April 28, 2017, 09:34:30 PM »
Something that I've recently become extremely interested in is educating an older demographic of learners, say ages 50-80.  When we think about the amount of research in L1 education compared to L2, there is already so little information.  When we then consider teaching L2 to an older population, I found even less information.  There are some significant differences in education older learners as compared to traditional or younger students.  Senior learners tend to have more physical barriers and challenges to overcome (memory, hearing, visual, mobility).  They are typically in much different places when you look at education level, life experience, L1 competency- thus needs assessment is even more critical.  Conversely though, Senior learners often have better attitudes toward the material as well as the learning process in general.  They also tend to develop an appreciation for the language, rather than learning language for a test. 

Here are some articles/resources I've read:

Using Literature / The Giving Tree
« on: March 07, 2017, 10:27:00 PM »
The Giving Tree was and still is one of my favorite works, because though it was written for children, it really hits on deep emotions and themes that adults can connect with.  There are a lot of different ways you can work with this text, depending on the age and language level of your students.  It's a really great text because it only has two characters, is short and follows a plain chronological order.  For this activity, assume intermediate college aged students who have never read the book.  Below are listed some great pre-reading questions before beginning with this text.  It will get students to not just use their language skills but also creat opportunities for personal reflection and sharing. 

Pre Reading Questions
1.  By looking at this cover, what do you anticipate this story to be about?
2.  Thinking about giving, have you ever received a gift that meant a lot to you?  What was it, and why did it mean so much?
3.  Have you ever given a significant gift?  How did the person show you appreciation?  How did it make you feel to give that gift?

Getting to Know You Activities / Elevator Pitch
« on: March 07, 2017, 09:30:12 PM »
This is a super quick activity that can be modified for specific needs! 

Students are instructed to tell their life story to their classmates.  They have creative control over what they want to share (and can even make up what they WISH was their life story).  The catch is that they only have 30 seconds to give their classmates a complete picture of who they are.  You can give students time to work on their pitch, especially if they are lower-level english speakers.  You can have them use props, draw their entire story, or even use charades.  It's a great way for students to get to know each other in a short amount of time.  Because of the potential for creative modifications, if can also be used as a purely fun ice breaker, or as an activity for skill development.

Summary & Paraphrase / Strip Activity for Comprehension
« on: March 07, 2017, 09:18:14 PM »
This is an activity that can be used after reading to check comprehension, or can even be used to discuss literary them ideas in general without reading.  I've even used it as an ice breaker with native speakers. 

1.  Select your material, that could be a summary that you found or that you wrote.  An example of a good basic summary is the one I found here:  As you will see, the summary is pretty broad, but covers all the main plot developments. 
[/size]2.  Divide your material into chunks.  Depending on the skill level or intended outcomes of the activity, the summary could be divided differently.  For example, lower level students could organize by paragraph, while higher level students could organize by sentence.  [/font]
[/size]3.  Distribute your materials to students and have them organize the chunks in order.  This could be done in so many ways.  Students could be in groups, solo, or the whole class could work together.  As a large group activity, each person could have one section of text and would need to find the person before and after them.    [/size]4.  Once students have completed the activity, you can have a debriefing activity where you discuss how students were able to order the material correctly, and strategies they used.  If you are using this as a comprehension check, it will be clear when students did not read, or didn't understand the reading.  There could be so many variations on this activity.  You could look for specific literary devices (exposition, climax, resolution), or use it with other genres (email, recipes etc.).  It's great for learners who enjoy movement, as they can get up or even just place the strips in order physically.

After reading the article, students can predict what they think might happen in the future.  Based on the information they have, what outcome could the discovery of habitable planets or alien life have on our current mode of life.  Possible questions to consider are: 
  If these planets are habitable, do you think Earthlings would try to colonize the planets?  Would you choose to live there?
  Do you think Earthlings would mine planets for other resources?  What are some potential resources we might find?
  If we encounter ET life, who would be in charge or making and maintaining contact?  The country who found the beings, or a representative from a global collective?  Can you relate this discovery and the idea of space discovery with a book or movie with which you are familiar?

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