ELNG 200 Placement: Part Two


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Jeff
Here is part two of my experiences at my ELNG 200 placement:

I went to my school for my fifth time on October 25th, 2013.  This was, by far, my favourite visit so far! I was there for a longer period of time, so I got to work with two groups of students.  The first group in the morning was working on some PWIM (Picture Word Inductive Model) work with a picture of sports related things.  Just like the other group I was with previously, the students would identify things they recognized in the picture and the teacher would write the word on the piece of paper.  They went through each and every word and spelled them multiple times.  They also recognized that a lot of the sports had the common word “ball”.  The teacher has noticed that they are having difficulties with sounding out words, so we went through the first bit of the Alphabet.  She asked students, in turns, if they knew the sounds of each letter and then the rest of the students would say a word that starts with that letter.  The students seem most excited about the alphabet!

In the afternoon, we had a couple of older students.  There were only two students available, so a classmate and I worked one on one with each student.  The student I was working with was encouraged to write sentences about things he knows and predicts.  Before class started, he was watching a YouTube video about Captain America, so the teacher suggested that he watches a Captain America video and write sentences about what he thinks will happen, starting with, “I predict” or “I think”.  The student decided to watch the last scene of The Avengers.  We watched it together and I would pause the video at different times and ask him to write a sentence about what he thinks will happen.  A lot of his sentences were looking the same, so I encouraged him to write a sentence with a different structure.

After that, he read a book to me and I was supposed to make sure he was reading the book in a natural flow, more particularly, the higher pitch of your voice when you ask a question.  He grasped on quickly to the reading of a question.  After each page, we would write down a verb from the story and put –ing and –ed endings onto them.  I then asked him to underline the base word or the word that is common in each set.  After we read the entire story, I asked him to tell me what the problem in the story was and the solution.  He was able to recognize the problem, but the solution was a little hard for him.  We read over the last couple of pages and looked at the pictures and he figured it out.

My last day at the school was on October 31st, 2013.  We started out the day with an assembly for an hour.  After that, we gathered our grade four and five literacy group students.  They were learning how to spell and say certain words the previous day and they were given a spelling test today.  Instead of erasing the words off the board, she left them up and didn’t tell them that those words were the words on the test.  The students figured out that they were the same words on the board, but they had to sound out the words to figure out which one she was asking.  I thought this was great because the sounds of letters and words stump them quite often.  They marked their own papers with check marks and put corrections underneath their original word.  I like the fact that the teacher does not like “x” marks for incorrect answers because I feel like they are very negative, as well.

After the test, we read a story called “Sam and Papa” and each student took turns reading pages from the book.  As I said before, they have trouble with sounding out words and we encouraged them to sound out each single letter.  When they were finished reading the story, the teacher asked the students to retrace the events of the story.  She has noticed that her students have trouble with sequencing, so this is why she is putting emphasis on this concept.  They were great at reflecting on what happened in the story, but they struggled with putting the scenes in order.  After reading and discussing the story, the teacher had three stations set up for the students, since we only had three students that day.  Two of the stations had literacy games on laptops and the other station was for rereading “Sam and Papa”.  The variety seemed to work for the students because it kept them interested.  Throwing in the literacy games was great because they were having fun while learning!

In ELNG 200, we had a class about putting cultural groups in a box. We then talked about how this is relevant for all people of different genders, sexual orientations, sizes, races, etc.  I have not heard any of foul language or name-calling while at this school, but maybe some of the ESL students are not aware of these words or that word carries a different meaning in their language or culture.  To follow up on this argument, an interesting thing to think about is the fact that a lot of children would probably not know the negative version of some of these words.  In Gloria Naylor’s article, for example, she explains that the “n” word had a different context to white people than her family, which were black.  When a boy called her this name, she did not understand the meaning, but quickly understood that it was a bad word to them, since the teacher had a negative response.

The students continue to mention some words in their own language because a word the teacher said sounds like that word.  This can prove the idea that all language derives from one early language.  In terms of English as a global language, I feel like that is proved also in ESL classrooms.  They have basic speaking skills in English and they are quickly emerged into regular English speaking classrooms and ESL classrooms.  This is a little different than our discussion on globalization because we talked about English speakers coming into countries and making English a required language.  These students have come into Canada with intentions to learn English because it is the most common language spoken in Canada.

I can link audiolingualism to my experiences, as well.  Audiolingualism consists of drills, question and answer, dialogues, positive reinforcement and a lot of repetition.  When the students are learning new words or looking back at alphabet sounds, they repeat that word or sound various times to get the learning to sink in.  This relates to when I talked about the teacher going through the alphabet and getting the students to say the sound and a word starting with the letter multiple times.  A lot of the times when I’m reading with the students, I will get them to repeat words to me and read a sentence over to reassure me and themselves that they understand what they are reading.  A lot of dialogue goes on in class, which is a great aspect of this classroom.  The teacher will often ask something relating to the lesson, and the students will answer and reflect on each other’s answers.

Myth #2 in our Language Development textbook is:  Younger children are more effective learners.  The reality explained in the chapter is that younger learners are better at learning with little or no accent, but older learners are more efficient.  I have noticed at the school that the older learners in grade 4/5 are progressing and understanding faster than the younger learners in grade 2/3. This is on a smaller spectrum than what the author might have been thinking (children vs. adult), but I think it is relevant.  A lot of the newly arrived students in the ESL classroom have brothers and sisters in different grades, so they all came into Canada at the same time.  The older siblings often compare words in their own language and apply that to their learning.  This is not happening as much with the younger students.

You can say that we use operant conditioning in the classroom, also.  We are big high-fivers and this often happens when the students succeed in an assignment or accomplish a goal.  The students do language learning activities on the computer some times and this is a motivational tool for them to work hard during the learning beforehand because they really enjoy the activities online.  The teacher will also sometimes bring in snacks for the students on special days. You can tell that this encouragement affects the students because they smile or look very happy.  You can see a sense of accomplishment and pride in them, which is one of the greatest things to see with this profession.  These moments are the best things to experience because I see the students progressing, and at the same time, I am progressing because I am learning so much from these individuals as I work with them.

ELNG 200 Placement: Part One


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by peko-chan
Since my semester is over, I decided to reflect on what I’ve experienced throughout the semester.  In my ELNG 200 class, we had a placement in an ESL classroom.  As an assignment, we wrote two letters to our professor and connected our experiences to the class.  I thought I would share my experiences from my placement!  This is my first letter:

October 10th, 2013 was my first day at my ELNG 200 placement!  I was very surprised when I walked into the doors of the school I was assigned at because I have never seen a school that has looked like this before.  The furniture was colourful and everything looked new!  I met with the ESL teacher and she gave me a tour of the school and went through the kinds of activities she does with her students.  One thing that I found interesting was that when children pick a book at the library, they should follow something called the “5 finger rule”.  When students pick out a book, they should read a page and put down a finger when they don’t understand a word.  If you put all 5 fingers down on one page, then that book is not appropriate for your reading level yet.

At around 9:30, we picked up 4 children from grade 2 and 3.  Once we got all settled in her room, she brought out a story called “Friends”.  The first page had two dogs on it and the name was underneath their pictures.  She started out by asking them to read their names.  One of the dog’s names was Taco and that went further into a discussion about the student’s favourite food.  I think this was great because the students recognized that Taco was a kind of food and connected that to their everyday lives and preferences.  We then started the story.  Every page had about 1-2 sentences and she got them to read a sentence each in order.  It was interesting to see that they are very committed to reading and sounding out the words when it was their turn.  A few of them sounded out the words correctly, but the word was said wrong because English is very difficult that way.  For example, instead of saying “t-aw-co”, a student said “t-ah(as in [a]pple)-co”.  When one student was struggling, the other students would try and help that student read the sentence.  This is great for relationship building and for creating a support system within the school.

After reading the story, we looked at strips of paper that included a picture and the English word underneath.  She asked the students, one at a time, to find the word she said and then to spell it out.  After we did this we joined the class where the students were from and participated in a reading activity.  The teacher asked the students to read a book to another person.  I sat with one of the ESL students and got him to read a book to him.  I realized that he had trouble with a lot of the words and encouraged him to sound out everything he was reading.  Another thing that seemed to help was to get him to repeat the words over again to try and remember those words.

My second time in the ESL class was October 17th, 2013.  We had two more students in the classroom today, with a total of six.  The teacher had training earlier on in the week on a program called PWIM (Picture Word Inductive Model).  First, teachers would choose a picture that their students can relate to and the picture is attached to a larger piece of paper.  For example, we used a picture of a child’s room with toys.  Students are asked, one by one, to pick something in the picture and identify it.  Some of the words the children said in my example were “toys”, “vacuum”, “dinosaur” and “garage”.  Every student picked out one word from the picture, which came to a total of six words.  After that, students are encouraged to sound out the word and to try and spell it.  We went over their words multiple times and spelled them out each time.  Dawna put the sheet up on the board and asked the students to write the words in their notebooks.

After we identified words in the picture, we spelled the words again, using movements for letters in the “attic”, the “basement” and the “main floor”.  Words in the “attic” are tall letters like t, l, f, d, h, etc.  Letters in the “basement” are letters that hang low like g, y, p, q, and j.  Lastly, letters on the “main floor” are letters that are in the middle like a, e, r, u, i, etc.  We then proceeded to the grade 2 classroom again where we participated in the students’ time to read to another person.  I read with a different student than last week and I used the same strategy of repetition for mistaken words.  I didn’t just want to tell him what a word said if he made a mistake and this student did very well with sounding out the words for himself and figuring out the word.

My third time at the school was on October 24th, 2013 and I was with a different group of children today that were in grades 4 and 5.  The day started out with journal writing and they had monsters as a theme.  They first brainstormed describing words that they could use on their monster.  For example, “sharp teeth” was a term used.  They went through each and every word and spelled them out.  The students then decided what they wanted their monster to look like and put that description into a sentence.  The next step was to decide where their monster was and write a sentence about it.  One student decided that his monster was in his backyard.  One student I was working with was not really engaged in the activity and was not making any decisions.  This student was not writing sentences, so we decided that he could draw a picture of his monster first so he got an idea of what his monster will look like.  I read through the list they made and had to give him multiple suggestions until he started working.

In the afternoon, we read through a poem:

Two little bats sitting on a wall

One named Peter,

One named Paul

Fly away Peter,

Fly away Paul

Come back Peter,

Come back Paul

The students all read through the poem by themselves, one at a time.  They were asked to identify the rhyming words (wall and Paul).  They compared various combinations of words to hear if the words sound similar.  The students were then given a fill in the blank worksheet of the poem.

While I’m at my field experience, I try to keep in mind the myths, theories and content that we have learned in ELNG 200.  This class has opened my eyes to a lot of ideas that I have never really thought of before.  While working with these students, I think about the myths of bilingualism and I free my mind of any of these misconceptions.  I’ve realized and heavily thought about how easy it is for people to believe these myths if they are not aware of them.  For example, there’s the myth about the child’s brain being monolingual.  Parents will become nervous because they are concerned that their children will not be able to separate their two languages and it will result in slower linguistic development.

There’s not really a choice of staying monolingual for children coming in from non English speaking countries.  Teachers and peers can’t really communicate with this individual if they cannot understand each other.  There is this one student in my placement that doesn’t like to use English in the school and heavily relies on the students that speak the student’s home language.  Using their first language is celebrated, but if the students do not dedicate a certain amount of attention to their second language learning, they are not going to grasp English as fast.  Like we said in class: if you don’t use it, you lose it!  Also, from my experiences, learning a new language is most effective when you speak with a community of people that are learning the language alongside you or to a community of native speakers of that language.  This shows how important it is for students to have access to language.  Using the language more benefits the child socially and results in communicative competence.

I’ve noticed the dimensions of phonology and semantics in the students. It’s interesting to hear the different phonological sounds that the students use.  There was a time in my experience where a student misunderstood me because our sound systems are different.  I was going through each sound of a word with this student and I said something that sounded like the letter ‘r’ in the student’s home language.  Sometimes in class, students will recognize a word the teacher says because it sounds similar to something in their language.  This shows the different semantics in our languages.  One student answered a question of her’s with “lala” (I’m not sure if that is the proper spelling) and she asked what “lala” meant.  The student responded by saying that “lala” meant sleep in their language.  The ESL teacher is always eager to learn new words in their languages and the students are excited to share this with her!

I definitely see the internal and external factors that influence learning a second language in my experience every time I’m there.  All of the students are under 20 years of age, so they fit that part of the theory.  Most of the students I have encountered are very confident and have a high self-esteem, which results in excellence in communication skills!  When students are on the shyer side, it’s hard to tell if they have a high self-esteem or not, especially since I’m not there everyday to get to know them.  There are a few shy students that do not seem to want to speak out in class.  This could possibly be a silent period for them.  Some of the EAL students are shy, but they are excellent at communicating in English. There is a lot of motivation in the classroom from peers and teachers.  Students in the class are always helping each other out, as well as the teachers.  The students are also reflecting on their own experiences with their home language and with their cultures.  The teacher is great with helping the students out with curriculum learning.  She is always referring their cultures and helping with clarification.  She also creates a risk free environment through her instruction and leading conversations.  I also feel very comfortable in her classroom and I can have conversations with her naturally.  As I mentioned before, there is access to language at the school because the majority of people speak English.

Should Teachers Be Friends with their Students on Facebook?

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by SimonQ錫濛譙

Since I’m done for the semester and most of the stress is gone, I thought I’d take this time to blog about some things that I haven’t talked about on my blog this semester in ECMP 355.  The question of having teacher-student relationships or teacher-parent relationships on Facebook came up quite a bit in class.  I personally think that it’s not the greatest idea when you are dealing with elementary or high school students and their parents.  For me, my Facebook account is for personal updates and connecting with friends I have made over the years.  If we have students or parents as friends on Facebook, everything you say or do could be criticized.  It seems as though if someone finds out that their teacher has a life, it’s the end of the world.  I remember when I was in high school, we would think it was the craziest thing if we saw our teachers out at the grocery store or in any public place.  It’s as if we thought that teachers live at the school or something!  I feel like it’s okay once your students are out of school, especially if you have developed a great relationship with that teacher.  For example, I’m friends with my teacher from high school on Facebook and she is one of my inspirations to become a teacher!  I think this is not such a big deal with university students, however.  At this point, we should all be mature enough to be able to do this.  Once you get to university, professors start to treat you as adults and equals.  You may even develop friendships and mentoring relationships with these professors.

I think it’s a great idea to start a page on Facebook or create a Facebook account solely for educational purposes.  We explored this when we looked at the Hackel Hub Facebook Page.  This teacher documents what’s going on in the classroom and what the students are learning about.  This is a great way for parents and guardians to be involved in their children’s learning and for them to be aware of what their children are learning.  Seeing their child’s successes and progress will ensure that their children are in good hands!  Before the teacher posted anything, the teacher sent out a permission form for the students to be shown on the Facebook page.  The options were: I allow my child to be photographed with their name, I allow my child to be photographed without their name or I don’t allow my child to be featured on the page.  The page is completely private, so only people that are friends with this Facebook page will be able to see the content.

Overall, I think using Facebook for educational purposes is a good thing, but only if it is used in the right way.  This is my own personal opinion, but having students access your personal Facebook page may become problematic.  Students and teachers may analyze and criticize what you say on this social media site.  They also may think of you as less of an authoritative or role model figure because of the things you post.  This all comes down to how you portray yourself online, though.  You may not have problems with this, depending on what you post.  Facebook may be another way that you choose to develop your digital identity.  In the end, I think that using Facebook to document and update family members on your students’ progress is a beneficial way to use this social media site.

What do you think? Is it appropriate to accept friend requests from students?

My Summary of Learning

We are at the end of the Fall 2013 semester and it’s time to reflect on the things we have learned in ECMP 355!  Since my speaking skills are not the greatest in this video, I thought I would reflect further on the things talked about in my screen recording.

1. Google+

  • As mentioned in my video, I never really thought that Google+ was anything special.  Through other social medias and conversations, Google+ was kind of seen as a joke by many.  Through this class, I realized that you can do some great things with it.  First of all, it’s a great way to get students together in one group to share ideas, to make announcements and to get feedback from others.  I was used to UR Courses for this kind of interaction, but Google+ has proved to be a more easier, organized and comfortable way to access information.  Google Docs were used on our Google+ page, which was very convenient because they were placed right in plain view for us to access.  Because of this class, I started using Google Docs to share ideas and information with classmates.

2. Twitter

  • I originally used Twitter as a way to ‘stalk’ celebrities and to find out what was happening in the world.  Little did I know, Twitter can be used as a tool to communicate with other educators through hashtags.  The example I used in my video was #pted (preservice teacher education), but there are multiple hashtags like #elemed, #scichat #ntchat, ect.  Educators that follow these multiple hashtags around the world can respond to your tweet by giving advice, feedback or comments.

3. WordPress

  • I had a WordPress blog before this class and I would usually just write about what I was thinking about and reflecting on experiences.  Once I started ECMP 355, I started blogging about technology, reflections and my own personal learning.  I thought I was pretty advanced with WordPress before, but I’ve learned so much from this class.  For example, I learned about drop down menus and ping backs.  I also learned how to use an about.me page on my blog.  We also had George Couros come into our class to show us how we can develop our professional portfolios online.  I had no idea that you could do this and it seems like a more organized and environmentally friendlier way of developing a professional portfolio, while developing your digital footprint at the same time.

4. Edublogs

  • I’ve never actually used Edublogs before, but I’m bringing this up because we looked at Ms Cassidy’s blog.  She uses Edublogs as a way to record the progress of her students, which is pretty cool in my opinion.  I took a closer look at her blog after I made my summary of learning and realized that she does not document only reading and writing, but also other subjects, like math and art.  I think this is a great way for teachers and for parents to see the progress that the students are making.

5. Digital Storytelling

  • Through the 5 Card Flickr Story exercise and The Door Scene exercise, we learned all about digital storytelling.  I thought this was amazing because it goes beyond our basic understanding of how stories are told, which would be physically reading a story and watching movies.  This class has really opened my mind to how many possibilities arise from using technology.

6. Youtube/iMovie

  • Youtube has been a very important tool for me this year.  I posted my learning project videos, The Door Scene video and my summary of learning from this class onto Youtube.  I’ve also used it in different classes in the past and recently.  Youtube provides a quick and easy way to share videos with classmates, students, friends, colleagues and many more!  I use iMovie to edit all of my videos and it’s been pretty good for me so far!  I had to update to a new version because my past one was not working for some reason, but I’m starting to like the new version more now!  It’s easy to understand and function and you can share your videos onto Youtube directly from iMovie.

7. Podcasting

  • Podcasting has always been a foreign term to me and I never really understood it until this class.  We were supposed to create one in a different class earlier on, but we ended up just recording a video of our voices and put it on Youtube because we did not understand how to create a podcast.  Since we were not totally confident in talking about something, we made a music mashup, which is much harder than it seems.  Creating podcasts could be a great alternative to presenting in class and it could also be a way to bring information or entertainment to others.

8. Digital Identity

  • In my video, I talk about the story of Karen Klein and Amanda Todd.  Both of these individuals were affected by the identity they have made online.  Karen’s story ends up happier because someone raised money for her to go on a vacation.  But for Amanda Todd, however, her identity and her activity online contributed to her downfall.
  • Throughout this whole entire class, we have been developing our own digital identities through social medias such as Google+ and Twitter and through our blogs.  These tools have enabled us to identify as educators and share information that we find interesting.

Digital Storytelling

I’m quite amazed with all of the tools we have used and explored through ECMP 355 for digital storytelling lately!  I was not aware of most of the tools we went through!  When I thought of digital storytelling, I only thought about telling stories in videos; more specifically, Youtube videos.  Little did I know, there were way more ways to express a story with technology!

The first two things we looked at on October 3rd was 5 Card Flickr and 6 word stories.  In the 5 Card Flickr story, you choose 5 pictures and create a story with those images.  I did this recently in a past blog post.  I thought this activity in class was wonderful because it channeled my creativity and kept me interested!  I feel like this would be great for children to do because I can only imagine what stories they would come up with!  It’s a great way to get your creative juices going and it could be an introduction into creative writing for children!  The 6 word story is exactly what you think: a six word story!  Here’s an example: “Tanline on his ring finger? Goodbye. – Ruby”.  You’d think this would be simple to do, but it is quite the contrary!  I considered doing one because I thought it would be easy, but creating a story in 6 words is difficult!  This could be a great exercise to demonstrate the need to shorten sentences if the information in the sentence is redundant because you have to choose your words carefully in a 6 word story.  Another thing we looked at on this day was movie trailers that were edited to create a different movie genre.  For example, someone transformed Mary Poppins into a horror film:

This was very interesting because just by changing the music, colour and order of the scenes, you can create something completely different.

The next week, we started working on our Door Scene videos, as mentioned in my previous post.  We learned ways to make a video more suspenseful and we learned how to use iMovie more effectively.  It will be interesting to watch the videos from other groups because it will prove that a story can go in all different directions with their creative choices.  The next thing we are exploring is podcasting!  A new post will probably come up for that!

So, for a last thought: Are there any other digital storytelling tools that you know of? I would be thrilled to explore more!

Five Card Flickr Story

In ECMP 355 today, we talked about digital storytelling!  I never realized that there were so many cool apps and web tools for storytelling.  We talked about puppet pals, iMovie on the iPad, Five Card Flickr stories and 6 word stories.  In a Five Card story, they ask you to choose five photos and then you write a short story, based on those five pictures.  If you want to make one for yourself, here’s the link: Five Card Flickr Story.  Here is the Five Card Flickr Story I made today in class:


Five Card Story: Bobby’s Exciting Adventure

a Five Card Flickr story created by Ashley Y


flickr photo by keepps


flickr photo by keepps


flickr photo by Serenae


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by bionicteaching

Once upon a time, there was a cat named Bobby. Bobby was an inside cat and he was very curious about the outdoors. He longed to feel the outside air and to soak up the afternoon sun. One summer morning, he managed to sneak out while his owner was leaving for work. He ventured out to the garden that his owner maintained. He passed by many vegetables, flowers, plants, ect. After he passed by the tomatoes his owner was growing, he noticed two, small, strange looking objects. He looked closer and examined the swirled pattern on each of them. He swatted at one with his paw and a long, squishy animal passed through an opening in the object.

“Hey! What do you think you’re doing? I’m trying to nap here!,” exclaimed the creature.

“I’m sorry! I’ve never seen anything like you before! My name is Bobby and I’m a cat! Who are you?” Bobby asked.

“My name is Maurice and this is my wife, Glenda. We are snails!” Maurice answered.

“Cool! I’ve never heard of a snail before!” Bobby said.

Glenda woke up shortly after that and the three of them talked and became friends. Maurice and Glenda told Bobby all about snails and the other local creatures around. Bobby was fascinated and wanted to see more! He said farewell to his new snail friends and headed off to continue his adventure. He did not know where he was going or what he was going to see, and that excited Bobby even more! He passed by a house by a huge body of water. The house looked abandoned and creepy, so he did not dare come and explore. Bobby was definitely a scaredy cat! He ventured on and saw a field with a lot of trees. He saw a blow up slide and a soccer net, so he figured it was a place where children played. He walked across the field and noticed a new creature that he has never seen before. He seemed very scared.

“Hi, there! I’m Bobby and I’m a cat! Who are you?” asked Bobby.

“I’m G-g-george and I’m a cow,” he said shyly.

“Hello, George! What’s the matter?” Bobby asked in a concerned tone.

“I was playing hide and seek with my brothers and I went to far. I’m lost and I can’t find my farm!” George exclaimed. He started crying and Bobby felt very bad. Bobby had a very good sense of direction and knew he could help.

“I’ll help you find your home, don’t you worry!” Bobby reassured him.

As they walked, George told him all about life on the farm and the animals that live there. Bobby was intrigued by his stories and couldn’t wait to see his home. They ventured outside the forested area around the park and eventually found his farm.

“Thank you so much, Bobby! I hope to see you again, new friend!” said George.

Bobby ventured back home and he thought about all the new and exciting things he saw that day! He was so thankful to meet new friends and to learn about their homes and lifestyles! When Bobby arrived to his place, his owner was crying and he realized that she was worried sick about him! He felt really bad for leaving without permission, but he will never forget the adventure he went on that day!