A summer cold, teaching, plays and programs


So, I still have this summer cold. Slight headache, runny nose, slightly sore throat, and tossing and tumbling in sleep. It is improving, just not fast enough for me.

Today I will be using the iPads again, with the 11th grade, 10th grade, 12th grade, and maybe with the 4th grade. 4B and 4C are the biggest classes I have, I think, with around 25 students or so each. 3 iPads between that many students? Impossible, but all that is needed really is a leader in those classes to use the iPad for the story on it. I wish I had two stories that were as dynamic as the Storybeans one I have (you can touch the individual characters and they add to the story by sharing their thoughts about the situation). I wish that I also knew two students that were especially strong in English in both classes so that I could show them what to do as leaders in the class. I don’t think that will work. We will see if I can try it.

7:09pm Recap of the day

Liz and I went to help the Macbeth group. Unfortunately, by the time they started, Liz had to go. I stayed for about an hour as most of the school was at Mass in the morning. It was fantastic to consult with Jabar, the drama teacher, about possible staging and to work with the students on pronunciation. I really love seeing them perform. They are really great actors, and to be doing a play in Shakespearean language when their first language is Tamil is just remarkable.

11C: “I was here” by Beyonce (song analysis and the introduction of the word “legacy”): I was a little late for this class as the schedule had been adjusted. We started with a word game, Ruzzle, making as many words as we could. We took out the iPads, but never really got to the work. We will work on this lesson next week.

4B: Foldables and the script frame: I got to the class and had to hand out foldables to the majority of the class as many of them were not there. I then spent some time with the students in creating the foldables and writing sentences. The great thing is that I had 3-4 students that had done the homework and could work as helpers. We then took the dictation of the scene. We got 4 lines in before the class was over. I showed them the final project, the Sock Puppets, which engaged them. We will finish the Sock Puppet plays next week

10E: “I was here” by Beyonce: We used the iPads and the cards from the TESOL students (Visualizer, Summarizer, Clarifier, Questioner). The students were paired up. They heard the song, circled new words (which I defined), talked about the meaning. They completed their roles, and we shared. We then talked more about the meaning of the song and if they enjoyed it or not. A student was interested in Shakespeare and so we read a little about it. I asked some comprehension questions.

4C: Foldables and the script frame: Cancelled because the English teachers were having a meeting so I stayed with 10E to work on reading about Shakespearean with the connection of legacy. Modern and historical. The 10 E students then had a chance to play a game, Math Bingo, but only in English. It was in no way connected to the topic of “Legacy” but this was a free period for me and them. They wanted to play the Math game. I let them for the last 5 minutes.

The students in 10 E will work on creating a music video with the song.

Interval and I went to the 12th grade class to prepare for class with English terms from the problems. The students were so interested that they almost missed the interval. I told them to go out and enjoy the time and to also go for prayers.

12th grade math English: Trigonometry problems, defining terms from the word problems in English: YES! I started the class with a RUZZLE-type game that I had especially created with math terms in it: (sine, cosine, tangent, math). I had listed about 20 words. I focused on the first 10 so that they could understand and do the first problem. They had just gotten to reading it when class ended. Another lesson continuance. At least, they seemed like enjoyed the lesson. They seemed focused and attentive. It was related to something that they wanted to do and know. The first class was such a problem. They were borderline disrespectful, but this was not their fault. I was doing math that was too easy for them in English that was too hard. By using math that was at their level or just behind and simplifying the English, they were able to connect.

Fast Learners: Personal stories and vocabulary of cinema and digital storytelling. After the students were gathered together, we worked on personal stories. Only one student had attempted the homework. I gave them 15 minutes to write their stories of at least a page in length. I told them about the importance of having a strong anecdote, a personal connection, as a hook to an essay. I also showed them the essay form, but noted that in preparation for the essay, we would be doing a digital story. They chose images for their digital stories. They could use images from the Photo Stream or draw their own using Brushes or Paper. They had started on this before class ended. Our last classes will be devoted to finishing this activity.

11E: Day 2 of the TESOL program. We started out with a game of hangman, just to get the students talking in English and identifying words. In this class, we did the second day activity of the TESOL program, reading a nonfiction piece about animal attacks and what the FAO is doing to help farmers protect their crops. Again, I used the cards for the visualizer, clarifier, summarizer and questioner, but only after the students had identified new words and we had defined them together. Most understood and completed their tasks with a small degree of difficulty. It helped that I played their favorite song, Gangam Style, while they worked on their tasks as I had in the previous class. With some support, they were able to complete the tasks. At the end of the class, for 3 minutes, they were able to play a math game, but only if they were using English as I believe that doing math in a second language is a sure way to indicate the beginning of fluency. When we immediately say numbers or letters, the first things we learn in our primary languages, in a second language, it says to me that we are approaching fluency.

After lunch, a shower and a rest, Liz and I went over to the sister school, St. Xavier’s School for Girls as we were invited by Jabar to the English program. We were picked up by two of the girls, Hanishia and Merina, and walked over to the hostel there, where there were over 70 girls at their desks working. While there, they presented a full program, with English songs, an English recitation, dances, a Tamil drama, Tamil songs. It was fantastic. There was one girl off to the side that did not pray when the others did. They began the program with a prayer, prayed at the sound of a bell (which happened to be in the middle of me talking. They just said, “Excuse me, Teacher,” and began a series of prayers devoted to the Virgin), and ended with a prayer. She seemed distant from the others. The schools all have a small population of students from other faiths. Perhaps she was one.

The students also served us a white cake with strawberry frosting and a lovely soda. It was a lovely gesture that they extended. Of course, they did not know that I am allergic to gluten. I immediately felt a little rumble in my stomach. We will see how I do this evening.

After we took pictures with the girls, Hanishia and Merina walked us back. There were stray donkeys on the road and many, many Sinhala soldiers with guns. Tomorrow is Tamil day, and as a way of “disrupting”, as one person described it, that celebration, the Sinhala soldiers are putting on a program this evening with Sinhala music. It is being put on by the Navy, hence all the soldiers. Part of me wants to attend out of curiosity, but I get tense with so many guns out in the open. I have been to military events before this time, but only those hosted by American military, and there were never any guns that were visible at those events, even on the military base. There were folks at the gate, of course. I knew that every soldier had a gun and several guns at that, but I never saw them in a social venue. Very strange to see so many soldiers carrying guns who do not seem like they are at a post. The music sounds interesting, though.


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