Category Archives: Uncategorized

Apps that Enlighten ESL Learning

Teachers strive to guide students in their learning as individuals in contrast with the traditional, full class lecture approach whenever possible.  This is evident in their decision to cluster students into groups with a similar achievement or ability level.  A stigma of branding student’s capabilities can be a detriment when perceived by other students.  Although, a teacher’s best intentions are understood, its consequence can perpetuate low self-esteem and anxiety in students.  This is amplified when special needs students are involved, or with the below average in achievement students who tend to fall between the cracks receiving no or minimal modification to their programme. Technology offers numerous supports that help empower students to take greater responsibility and independence for their learning.  This is in a more personal and respectful manner… all between their fingers and a device.

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Tablet technology has been a welcomed hand of friendship for students to visualise and individualise various aspects of the curriculum over the past eight years.  Its function is to promote discovery, wonderment and active exploration with touch, motion, and sound, according to Apple.  With thoughtful planning, a students’ day can be filled with a blended approach of many methods to achieve the goals of the classroom programme. The technology, not merely as a substitution for simple typing and transcription of facts elevates the learning potential to inter-disciplinary, creation-based, collaborative, promoting activities founded on higher order thinking skills ideology.

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Futaba – up to four can play for picture – text identification in a gaming environment which can be personalised for your students

With the thousands of English learning apps for children on the various app stores, a definite conundrum exists in selecting the most robust and diverse apps.  Educators time is precious to be able to afford the time to download, try, evaluate and long-term test an app’s value.  An app called ‘Daily App Advice’ by AppAdvice.com is a must-have app for educators.  It offers the daily user to 4 or more apps in a variety of categories that have gone free for a day.  Once downloaded, these apps can be installed on all iPads under the same school account.  Teacher networking is another way to keep informed of useful apps for education, either within your school or district or with online sites, for example: www.commonsensemedia.org.

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Little Finder – listening skills app for one or two

 

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Choosing Suitable Apps

This basic rubric provides hints to help educators to identify apps that afford the best user experience in achieving curriculum goals and reflect sound pedagogical best practices for classrooms. With practice, educators will quickly develop a skillful eye to evaluate an app’s appropriateness and which to avoid.  The author takes the stance that using any aspect of technology is only a part of the many, varied learning tools and methods available that support a blended approach in education.

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Speech Festival Tracks

The 69th Hong Kong Speech Festival is underway and many of our students are participating.  Below are the sound files for my students to practice.  I’m sure this experience of preparing and performing at this year’s festival will be a positive one for all.  Good luck to all!

The Fine Line of Boredom

As schools across Hong Kong close for the Summer, children look forward to a well-deserved respite from the hectic school schedule.  Typically, many parents have already enrolled their children in summer programmes as early as January, if overseas.  Planning what’s best for their child, traditionally moves to this conclusion: keep them busy and learning. In many cases, even as adults, the first goal is to rest, relax and catch up on one’s personal, quality time, alone or with family.

As an Educator and Counsellor, I believe children need down time to play freely allowing them to do all the small, simpler activities they enjoy.  This could include building models, play acting with toys or dolls, watching TV, playing computer or tablet games, and most valuable, playing with friends.

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After the threshold has been reached and boredom sets in, parents usually instigate for control and scheduling.  This is an opportune time to have meaningful discussion about how to use precious, summer holiday time.  Prompting and reflective dialogue often helps to give them some control in the negotiation, usually a blend of the wants from both sides.

I believe boredom is the fine line between having something to do and, often perceived and not always true, nothing to do.  However, out from that fine line shines the possibilities of new ideas.  This could be a hobby, a visit, a new sport, or a trip to the museum or Science Centre.  It can be anything that helps to build new ideas, insights, and fascination from new situations.  For example, a day camp has the potential to build social skills that could bolster a shy individual, or an afternoon trial lesson in another language, or a musical instrument may trigger a lifelong passion for it.

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Some activities, if designed in a clever manner, have the potential to build on challenging school subjects; for example, fun science experiments themed with math, drama and writing (or reading), drama combined with music (or video making and editing), cooking and math skills, coding and logical thinking, general studies, graphic design and research skills. The thoughtful parent will look for these connections.

The next time your child is bored, ask him/her, “What do you want to do?” and watch the possibilities fly!

Learning English with Scrabble

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As part of my English ECA this term, students have been introduced to various board games.  One of them is Scrabble.  Students put letters together to form words scoring points for themselves.  There are many of benefits of playing this word game, notably spelling and the use of known and new vocabulary.   Students also develop the social skills of taking turns, patience, and fairness.
What I see my students enjoy the most is their usage of high frequency words (Dolch Sight Words).  Playing Scrabble helps them strengthen their English communication skills and fosters competitiveness and confidence among them.  As an ESL teacher, I believe Scrabble would provide ways for students and teachers to expand their verbal repertoire.  Furthermore, it is a pleasant way for students to learn words for their English classes.

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While playing Scrabble, the use of an online dictionary (iPad) has proven to be essential for my students when searching for a word or checking its proper spelling.  Exploring the digital dictionary exposes them to new vocabulary and its definitions, as well as 21st century research skills.   Online dictionaries speak the word for students to practice their pronunciation, as well as show synonyms and antonyms.  When the students form a questionable word, they have to check the dictionary to see if these word actually exists, and in some instances, it does!

Scrabble lightens the mood and allows the students to de-stress after a long day and enjoy their second language experience in a fun way.

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Pizza Express Visit

Today, we went on a field trip to Pizza Express, in Mongkok East, as part of our ECA.  The children had the opportunity to visit a working kitchen and experience first hand, what it is like to create one of their favourite foods.  While preparing an individual pizza, each child learned the various names and the process of adding numerous ingredients (sauce, vegetables, cheese and meat choices).  They especially enjoyed watching the changes, stage by stage, that occurred during preparation and baking.

Other highlights included dressing in traditional chef uniform and eating their pizza creation at the end.

A huge thank you goes out to Miss Lai, who helped coordinate this event and Vincent, from the IT department, who donated his time to accompany us on our trip.  I also want to thank our students who were well-behaved and represented our school so well.

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Sports Day 2017

CNEC Ta Tung’s annual Sports Day held at Kwai Chung Sports Ground last Friday, was not only fun, but contained numerous, challenging events for our students to excel at.
Children had the opportunity to test their skills and compete with each other in a variety of games. The high-spirited sportsmanship displayed by the students in the stands added to the enjoyment and excitement of the day.
As always, Sports Day was extremely well organised by our PE Department. Thanks to Mr Wong and Ms Lai for hosting the event and to all my other colleagues for playing their part in ensuring that everything ran smoothly.  It was a festive day, one that truly showed the best of our students.
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Big Books = Big Fun!

Readers Theatre: Giving Children a Reason to Read Aloud

Learning a second language is challenging enough.  Aspiring to the level where you are able to appreciate the subtleties and nuances of expression, volume and fluency is truly the art of reading aloud.  Although an unrealistic goal for students who spend very little daily time with English, I think there are simple ways to move children closer to this ability, and in an enjoyable way.

Readers Theatre allows me to hear groups of students read the Big Books in character while the other students are guided in what to listen for, offer helpful advice and, basically, learn to be an audience; to appreciate a good story and how everyone interprets it differently in their presentation.

The students enjoy seeing themselves online (video – YouTube) and share their reading with parents and friends.  This keeps parents ‘in the loop’ on many levels of my programme, reading skills, drama, stage presence, and overall confidence.

We’re currently working on:

  • reading longer phrases
  • trying to add expression to the author’s language
  • trying to read fluidly and in a natural voice
  • reading at a suitable speed without unnecessary pauses
  • trying to look at the audience, at times

 

Happy Holidays!

I would like to wish the staff and students a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year, 2016.

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Untitled Pages, Today at 11.27.50 am

ESL Tidbits

Learning another language is even more enjoyable when combined with technology and the Arts.  Students become so much more engaged when the various activities and lessons are offered with the animation of apps, inspirational multimedia, and a kinaesthetic  approach to motivate their involvement.

Grade 2, students are learning new phonic sounds with the use of simple tongue twisters that are fun to say.  Through these silly and rhythmic phrases, students are practicing their letter ’S’ while moving to the beat.  Try to say, “Six Silly Sheep,” five times, as fast as you can!  Combined it in a chant, and with body movement and they won’t forget their ’S’!

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Grade 4s have been learning how to use an app called ‘My Create’ during ECA time.  Through the use of still pictures, they create a thirty to forty second animated clip to depict a story, which they will later use to review Procedural and Recount writing.  They have enjoyed planning and creating their sets.  This week, they will begin making their videos.

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Grade 6s are focusing on the voice animation projects.  They have really been working hard trying to put everyday language and voice to the video (For the Birds) It is a new way and interesting way to grasp a language as ESL learners and they truly enjoyed it. They have really taken ownership by editing, recording and planning it themselves.

P6A http://youtu.be/oqRmea4UfMk

P6B http://youtu.be/G3dhGU1Tumw

P6C https://youtu.be/FZ_VZwOfw2U

P6D https://youtu.be/LsDvtlb0PaI

Shadow Puppetry

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Readers Theatre with Shadow Puppet

This week, students put into practice what they have learned, showed their expressive reading skills and prepared their presentation using the Shadow Puppet app.  This programme  allows the user to tell  their experience online by letting him/her share a voice-over with an animated slideshow of their pics.

After learning how to use this app, students were able to decide how to present their story.  They were divided into groups and each were assigned a role.

What I believe is rewarding, is that each participant, regardless of their reading ability, was actively involved.  This app also encourages teamwork and open mindedness.