Sports Day – Let’s Play!

What a great way to start Spring with our annual Sports Day event!  The children had a great morning participating in running, relay, skipping and many other races; something for everyone.

Sports Day allows children to showcase many of the skills they have learned in physical education classes.  This day was made extra special by the large turn out of proud parents, and the cooler weather.  I was amazed how well the children demonstrate what it is to show good sportsmanship, team spirit, and cooperation.  It gave me a subtle chance to interact with the students in English in a less formal environment compared with the classroom.

Well done to all the children and thank you to all of the teachers for organizing such a meaningful event.  The students and parents see that physical education and organised competitions are valued as part of a holistic approach to school life.

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Games and Language Learning

This week, our school celebrated Language Week through games, reading activities, movies, and a book exchange.  I wish to thank the English teachers for organising such an enriching event for our students.  These are all memorable and fun ways to engage children in language learning.  My favourite activity, however is games.

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Learning a new language is enjoyable when the approach to learning is geared towards having fun!  Nowadays, we can learn languages through social media, movies or even by playing games, either board, paper or word games, or on a computer or mobile device!

There is an old Chinese proverb that perfectly describes the advantage of learning languages through games:

“Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.”

Effective language games are designed to involve us in different ways of using the language.

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Language games help children, as well as adults hone their speaking, listening, writing, reading, vocabulary, and understanding of the target language. It should also have longevity so their motivation is maintained each time they play the game.  Game apps are well-known for this design element to automatically adjust its level of difficulty with each successful engagement.

Today’s skillful educator’s role is knowing the necessary balance of games and a variety of traditional methods to provide accountability and enjoyment.  They need to be active in their monitoring of student progress and participation to diagnose the effectiveness of the choice of games, timing, and the assessment of the desired skills.

 

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

 

Stop Motion – Start the Fun!

This past week was the culmination of the Extra Curricular Activity I presented using Stop Animation technique to create short video animations.

Stop motion is an animation technique that physically manipulates an object that appears to move on its own. The object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous sequence.

Students created their stories using Plasticine figures. Stop motion animation using Plasticine is called clay animation or “clay-mation”.

IMG_6789Students were introduced to this method through an app called, myCreate.

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They started with storyboards to record their ideas, drawings and details to direct their work. This was a new experience for them which, at times, was challenging as they were not quite aware of the precision and number of photos that have to be taken just to create a thirty second clip (easily, over 300!).

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Once they became immersed in the project and understood what was needed to be successful, they surprised themselves with their creativity and the quality of the outcome. Bravo to them all.

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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That Final Touch

Students in my various classes continue to amaze me with their ability to engage with multiple languages over the course of any day.  After typical startup routines within my lessons, they review content and high- frequency vocabulary associated with various units/themes and large books we read together.

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It is at this stage that they look forward to a variety of activities to help reinforce the goals of the lesson.  One of these activities, commonly, is the use of the iPads.  Students are seen here practicing vocabulary and, in some apps, being introduced to new vocabulary with the aid of graphics and audio.

I learn so much watching them have their private time with the iPad to see which assigned apps grab their attention, and which ones rarely get used.  I have been using various phonics apps that allow for customizing vocabulary.  I recommend you looking at Alligator Apps for samples of these type of apps, and most are generously free!

 

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iMovie = Happy Students

Students in P4 are enjoying the challenge to create an iMovie project that represent their experiences and inquiries at the Hong Kong Museum of History in Tsim Sha Tsui.

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Students are planning their group’s exploration with specific questions and topics they want to take video and photos of.  They are comparing Hong Kong then and now.  The unit is entitled, ‘Old Hong Kong’ and will be presented in a iMovie project that highlights what visitors to Hong Kong should go and see.

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Skills they are developing:

  • group skills
  • question and answer
  • clarity and pronunciation skills
  • proper video and photo capturing skills
  • “less is more” concept with video lengths
  • interview and presentation skills while using the video capture function
  • iMovie skills in arranging clips and photos, titles, captions, voice over, cropping/trimming, volume control, transitions and basic effects – again, “less is more”

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P3/4 Assembly

Students of Primary 3/4 had a marvelous assembly last week to highlight the English programme within their grades.

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It was a highly interactive agenda of activities with the following:

  • first year for student-led assembly with two student emcees – bravo, Hadia and Alice
  • highly entertaining story with student involvement called, Click Clack, Cows that Type – recommended!
  • question and answer period
  • Spot the characters from the story in large pictures of various Hong Kong markets – they loved this!
  • demonstration of Sight Words Ninja app

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  • iMovie of the Ma On Shan Country Park day trip from the previous week

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Students are so much more active as listeners and participants when these assemblies are about them.  Variety, multimedia and student involvement are key!  Thank you to the wonderful Primary 3/4 teachers and support staff for their input and teamwork.

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P1/2 Stellar Students

Part of my goals this year in regard to student assemblies is to have more student involvement in the running of the assembly.  Last week, at the first P 1-2 Assembly, two students took the role of emcees to welcome parents, students and staff to this event.  Together, we wrote their lines and they capably memorized their parts adding the expression and enunciation we practiced.  I am so proud of these two students for being risk-takers in this first step to total student led assemblies.

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The P1-2 students did a great job at their assembly Friday with co-reading and chanting the story, Brown Bear What Do You See?  They particularly enjoyed the questions following the story and the character find challenge in the specially made pictures of Hong Kong.

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As always, they love to sing the Rainbow Song which highlights the colours of the rainbow.  I demonstrated an app called, ABC Ninja on the iPad to the large projector and screen to highlight this free apps educational value for learning English letters and phonic sounds.

ABC Ninja - The Alphabet Letters and Phonics Slicing Game for Kids on the App Store Firefox, Today at 1.01.24 pmThe slideshow ended our assembly which highlighted all the P 1/2 class collages, short videos from around the school, and some videos about the Lunar Moon Festival celebrations at the school.

I’m very proud of my P 1/2 students and thank their teachers for their support.

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‘my Create’ – Stop Motion fun

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My Create is a wonderful tool of simple animation for making an object look like it’s moving on its own.  Students in Grade 6 are learning the intricacies of planning, performing, and evaluating their finished projects so they are effective and entertaining.

One challenge is understanding the need to take many photos as your object moves, i.e., Frames Per Second (fps) must be large for an effective stop motion presentation.  Patience and planning = Perfect Performance

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