Tepuk Tangan – TPR

I’ve had fun this term experimenting with hand clapping with my junior primary classes. As my JP lessons almost always involve TPR (Total Physical Response), I am constantly looking out for new ideas to do this. TPR in my JP lessons usually centres around walking, swiming, dancing and hopping. While it only takes a few minutes, it is a great way to get young learners up and moving while listening to target language input. Where possible, I add structures from the current story; this term students vomited a lot from Catharina’s ular story!

I am constantly on the look out for new ideas to help keep TPR novel. While scrolling through my photos recently, I rediscovered my audio recording of a fun warm up/ice breaker called tepuk tangan pramuka shared by Indonesian international students at Flinders Uni in 2019. I found a YouTube clip to help me master it so I could demonstrate it to my classes.

I prefer this clip because it includes three variations of the tepuk tangan pramuka rhythm which, once my students had mastered, helped them suggest some other variations. That too was fun. They had so many ideas including single fingers, fists, back of hands (ouch) and fingers on palms.

To take advantage of its success, I next searched YouTube for other clapping ideas. This video has several great ones.

The first, tepuk semangat, I didn’t feel was right for my students but the following two have been perfect. There are several others that appeared to have potential too, e.g. tepuk koboi, but unfortunately include rifle shooting gestures. The tepuk ikan has greater potential but I think I would repeat ‘berenang’ rather than use the language ‘kenyang’; a Balinese word I typically avoid as it has the potential to cause embarrassment!

Instead, I think the following language would be fun:

clap, clap, clap
berenang,
clap, clap, clap
cari makan,
clap, clap, clap
berenang,
clap, clap, clap
diam!

The first one I introduced was the tepuk hoi, which is the second one on the above clip (fast forward to :27). This was an instant success and has become a successful call and response option.

The tepuk jempol (follows straight after tepuk hoi) was the second one I tried and it too has been popular. I particularly like how much slower it is.

The third and final tepuk tangan I taught the classes this year was the tepuk nyamuk. This one is just great fun!! Fast forward to :41 for tepuk nyamuk. Be warned though, the students in the clip below are shouting, which might be off putting.

On this clip, I also like the ting tong jus (1:30), tepuk jam dinding, (:52) and tepuk coca cola (1:03). The only thing with these is that they are one line short, so I’d tweak them to maintain the pattern.
eg Ting Tong Jus
clap, clap, clap
ting, ting,
clap, clap, clap
tong, tong
clap, clap, clap
ting, tong,
clap, clap, clap
ting, tong jus

While there are hundreds of variations, those that use either familiar vocabulary or incude onomatopoeia are the ones I find the most suitable. Brain breaks work best when only acquired language or quirky sounds are used eg tepuk nyamuk using the sound a mosquito makes when buzzing around your head. These clapping rhythms have been incredibly popular with my JP classes and I’ve had many students tell they enjoyed also teaching them to their younger siblings and parents!!

Overcoming End of Term Chaos with Gimkit

Do you also find term 10 incredibly challenging as a specialist teacher? For the past two terms, Gimkit has saved my sanity. By week 10, students are just so tired, most can do nothing beyond collapsing on a chair which is why online games work so well at this time. For the rest of the term, I believe their value is limited and a poor use of precious lesson time. Also, I have found, in saving them purely for week 10, their appeal snowballs leading to increased engagement and motivation at a time of the year when both are rare.

At my current site, students in term 1 constantly begged for Kahoot. I have to admit (eek – sorry), I am not a Kahoot fan. While I have used it a lot in the past, there are much better games available now that do not rely on students being the fastest to touch the correct answer. This can be highly disengaging and demotivating for struggling students. My goto online game now for students in week 10 is hands down Gimkit. For a specialist teacher though, you will probably need a subscription to play this with all classes, but if you were going to invest in just one game, this one is well worth it and will not break the bank.

I introduced classes to Gimkit last term in week 10. They had begged for Kahoot, so I prepared both a Kahoot and a Gimkit game based on the language from their class created text. I then made a deal with them. They had to play a game of each but could choose which one they’d play first. Naturally they grumbled when it came time to play the Gimkit game and afterwards when I asked which they prepared, most loyally elected Kahoot. However this term, right from the start, even before I had mentioned my plans for week 10, they were begging for Gimkit! Students before, during and after school came up to me begging for it!! When I suggested also playing Kahoot, they scoffed!

I recommend when using Gimkit for the first time, start with the classic mode where students compete independently. This gives them the opportunity to explore the way the game works and introduce them to some game features, particularly upgrade/sabotage options in the shop.

Depending on the age of the class, for middle primary, I recommend trying next the Humans V Zombies where students are randomly assigned to the team Humans or the team Zombies and them work together to outlast the opposition. My older classes also enjoyed this mode but it was not their first choice!

For upper primary and secondary classes, their first choice is the Trust No-one mode. As this is based on ‘Among Us’ (yet more appropriate), it was very popular. It can invite very loud discussions throughout the game with chatty classes and insisting on silence for the follow up game works well too. My major gripe about Trust No-one is that students can misuse the voting aspect to target less popular students. If this is also a problem with your students, I recommend a discussion before playing another round.

Reflections

A huge plus for Gimkit over Kahoot is that Kahoot rewards the fastest students and everyone is answering the same question at the same time increasing the chances of cheating and invalidating the data collected; with Gimkit, each student works at their own pace and the questions appear randomly with answers rarely in the same order from student to student.

However, the downside of this means that struggling readers do not gain any benefit at all if working independently with Gimkit. If there is just one struggling student, it helps to sit alongside them to read the questions. Otherwise, pairing students up may work. This also means that Gimkit is unsuitable for preliterate learners. Sad face (Edit :See Postscript # 2 below for an update to this observation) .

I highly recommend keeping questions simple at this time of the year. I prefer simply to ask the meaning of structures used during the term and try to include one ridiculous answer to make them smile!!

POSTSCRIPT

Senora Ana and I were chatting yesterday about Gimkit & Charlala and it suddenly occured to me that I forgot to mention this important hack. At least one student per class will inevitably accidently sign out of the game mid way through. All they need to do when this happens is to press the refresh key once and they will be returned immediately right back where they left off!

POSTSCRIPT # 2

I’ve learned (Terima kasih banyak to Pak Tim) that there is an option within Gimkit for questions to be read to players. Unfortunately, if you leave the pronunciation to Gimkit, the Indonesian pronunciation is so inaccurate, it is mostly incomprehensible.

Here are the instructions for turning on the read to me option:

1. Open the menu

2. Open the cog.

3. Switch on read to me.

Rather than leave the pronunciation to Gimkit, an easy option when creating questions, is to record the audio for each question word and then it will play automatically for each player. Thus as Pak Tim recommends, players requiring audio will need to play with headphones.

To add audio to your questions, click edit ,add audio and then save:

Two Great Brain Break Videos

During a recent PLC meeting, the wonderful Ibu Karen shared these two YouTube videos. My students adored them from the start, so I want to share them with you too, ready for term 4.

I have used this video with my two junior primary classes and they were singing along with it right from the start. I love how it gets reps on the structure ‘lingkaran’ (circle), numbers and besar/kecil (big/small). Be warned, if you play this song at the end of your lessons (highly recommend that you do), you will hear it go down the corridor as it is definitely an earworm tune.

The second video is a brilliant brain break. This link is for a Learning station song video called Ram Sam Sam which apparently was originally an Arabic song/rhyme from Morocco. I encourage you to initially play this video to your students without saying anything at all and I bet they can not help jumping up and joining in!! It is very challenging both mentally and physically.

Post script

Forgot to add this tip also shared with the PLC by Bu Karen. When using YouTube links in class, look at the link in the search bar. Between the word watch and the ?

type

_popup (one word)

and magically there will be no ads!

Here is the video with complete details. Credit to this YouTuber for the brilliant hack:

Charlala Plans for Term 4

Term 4, in my opinion, is the hands down best term for trialling, building &/ or tweaking new skills. I am planning to delve again into One Word Images (OWI) next term as well as explore the platform `Charlala‘. I’ve done a few `OWI’s’ and while it was hugely successful, classes didn’t get beyond creating characters. My two goal’s next term are to have at least one class create a story based around their OWI and the other is to explore Charlala. 🤞🤞 Both should be lots of fun and seemingly will compliment each other perfectly during the term 4 slide to summer holidays.

I first explored Charlala last year when it looked like we were heading into the intital lockdown. It had been one of the many potentional platform suggestions recommended for remote learning by the wonderful Senora Ana. In the rush to prepare for online teaching, there was nowhere near enough time to explore it fully and it was thus soon relegated to the “not now” pile! With immaculate timing, Senora Ana shared the video link (see below) in time for term 4.

What fabulous scope the platform Charlala appears to have!! The video below demonstrates how perfect Charlala is for a TCI classroom!! I am so inspired and can’t wait to use it. It is essentially a pictionary style platform where students demonstrate comprehension through illustrations on a digital whiteboard. Input can be delivered face to face, synchronously or asynchronously. The beauty of it being asynchronous is the potential for creating relief teacher lessons for all year levels.

Here are a few notes that I took while watching the video:

  1. Charlala offers the opportunity to create more discussion around ‘Apa kabar?’ (How are you?). I really enjoy encouraging students to create wacky stories around student absences.
  2. I am betting that as all drawings are projected up onto the white board, it will increase student accountability and effort. I have also discovered that students who are disengaged during written tasks, often have impressive drawing skills and it is brilliant to be able to celebrate this.
  3. Teachers can project/narrate sentences from a text for students to illustrate. The images created by students can be used for circling, voting (which illustration best captures meaning) or saved for future purposes!
  4. The saved (and copyright free) images could be used in many, many ways. To support learners write retells, sequencing events in the story, matching text and illustrations, creating relief lessons…
  5. There is the option to add audio to tasks – great for relief lessons!
  6. I need to determine compatibility with iPads as that is the 1:1 device available at my current site.
  7. Student login appears easy for entering the drawing room and is done through a join code.

Questions:
I have just emailed Chris Hammer (Charlala creator and developer) to ask a few questions about student accounts and its compatibility with iPads.

As a primary school language teacher, I believe that many of my students are too young to create accounts using email addresses and passwords. I like the idea of join codes but do not feel comfortable asking students to create personal accounts and create passwords. Do you feel the same?

I felt it was unclear in the video whether Charlala works fully on iPads so look forward to having that cleared up.

Have you used Charlala?

Please add a comment about your experiences and/or opinions!!

I am particularly interested in hearing if you have used Charlala in a face to face classroom recently, can recommend the platform and/or happy to share any tips/ideas that worked for you!

Here’s the video – enjoy!

POSTCRIPT

Yesterday, Senora Ana & I were exploring this platform together and it was so much fun! Anne used Charlala during lockdowns so it was great to explore some of her texts through the 2.0 update. We had a few questions as a result of our explorations and emailed Chris Hammer with them and there was an response waiting in our email inbox this morning! HIs support is awesome. Anyhoo, the upshot is that Chris added Indonesian to the language bank which is brilliant and removed the word ‘term’ which confusingly, was situated right in front of the text students read! For a beginner Spanish speaker, the unfamiliar ‘term’ elevated my affective filter as I did not recognise it. All I could think was, “How is this pronounced in Spanish!” Crazy how the brain fixates on incomprehensible text!

Bail Outs – when life is just too hard….

A ‘Bail Out’ is an American term for a particular type of lesson neccesary for either (or both) the teacher or students. It is usually neccessary to overcome craziness – either personal or professional- and to keep you going until life gets back on track. This year, at a new school where most days present challenges, I have often started a lesson and realised that my lesson plan is about to fail bigtime. Unfortunately for me, while I recognise that I need to think of a quick circuit breaker, my mind goes blank! This post will hopefully help both you and future me!!

Dictation

A brilliant way to potentially regain calm and is largely prep free is dictation. There are many different versions of dictation and the success of each one will inevitably depend on your context. Mine being a new school with students I am still getting to know, means I need bail outs that require students to be seated and working independently. For this reason, running dictation is not included here but read HERE to learn more about how I’ve done it successfully in the past.
Here are some dictation variations that, depending on your needs, may have some value. They have been sourced from a variety of places including:
https://frenchteachernet.blogspot.com/2021/07/a-checklist-of-dictation-activities.html, eslgames.com, teachthis.com, busyteacher.org

Scaffolded dictation

This simple variation of dictation adds a further puzzle-solving element students may appreciate.
1. Supply all consonants, but no vowels, or vice versa.
2. Provide a gapped version omitting chosen grammatical points such as verbs or prepositions.
3. Provide a translation; give students a translation in L1 of the text you read.

False facts dictation


1. Dictate some sentences, each one containing a false fact. The sentences could relate to general knowledge or something recently studied in class.
2. Students transcribe and try to underline where they think the error is.
3. Display the sentences and ask students what the factual problem was in each case.

Dictation with Substitution

  • 1. Replace structures with a humorous sounding cognate alternative such as orangutan, komputer.
  • 2. After/during the dictation, students try to determine what the substituted word should be.

Dictogloss

Read a short text to the students at normal speed. The first time students should just listen.
Then read the text a second time and allow the students to take notes.
Now in pairs have them try to reconstruct the text from their memory and notes.
When they have done what they can, read the text a third time and allow them to take further notes and make corrections.
Optional:
Next, divide the students into teams of four and work together to come up with the complete text. When the teams have reconstructed the text, have them write their sentences on the board. Award one point for each correct sentence. The team with the most points wins.

Match the Picture

Give students a sheet of paper with illustrations and photographs, and then dictate the sentence from the text for each picture.  The students write the correct caption next to each picture.

Jigsaw dictation


Dictate a paragraph in the usual way, but with the sentences out of order.
After transcribing what they hear, students re-order the sentences.

Finish the sentence

Read open ended sentences to students who complete them with information about themselves.
eg nama saya, saya tinggal di, saya di kelas, saya suka makan, saya suka bermain

Picture Dictation

Write comprehensible sentences about an image. Students firstly write down the sentence and then secondly create a illustration to match the text.

Have you tried any dictiation variations successfully that I haven’t included? I would love to add them to the page I have created for easy referral!! See in the header of my blog.

Exploring Culture Numerically

Nellie Hughes is a genius! She is also a truly lovely person and I know this because as an ‘apprentice’ coach at the 2018 iFLT conference, I was fortuntate to work with both her and Gary DiBianca! A truly memorable experience.

Nelly Hughes is also generous. Not only has she developed a highly engaging game based around cultural number facts, she has also generously permitted me to share my experience using it in the Indonesian classroom. I initially read about this game on Martina Bex’s website. I immediately knew it had potential for our Indonesian context and her tab remained opened on my laptop as I considered it. Then I picked up a horrible bug and suddenly Nelly’s game became a viable option for two relief lessons conducted, as usual, by a monolingual relief teacher. My first quiz was based on Indonesian geography and the second on agricultural animals in Indonesia. I received little specific feedback about the games beyond that the students enjoyed it and that playing it was confusing the first time. So last week, I decided to give it a go myself. Not only was this game suitable for a TRT, but it is also be a great idea for end of term!!

Here is how I went about it:

The first thing to do is choose a topic. The topic can be directly taken from ACARA e.g. Ramadan, Hari Raya Nyepi (ACARA Yr. 7/8), leisure activities e.g. takraw, bulu tangkis or environment e.g. hutan, gunung api (ACARA Yr. 5/6). The topic I chose was orangutan.

Once the topic is established, the next task is to create a bank of berapa (how many/how much) questions. My questions and answers were:

  • How many species of orangutan are there? 3
  • In the wild, how many years do orangutan live for? 50
  • Fully grown female orangutan stand how tall (in cm)? 100cm
  • Baby orangutan stay with their mother for how many years on average? 10 years
  • How many orangutan are left in Sumatra? 13,846
  • How many orangutan are left in Borneo? 104,700
  • How many Tapanuli orangutan are left? 800
  • In what year were the Tapanuli species identified? (different to the orangutan from North Sumatra and Borneo) 2017
  • How long is the gestation period for orangutan? 8.5 months
  • How many babies on average does a female orangutan have in her lifetime? 3
  • How many orangutan are killed every year? 2,500
  • When is Puspa’s birthday (the female orangutan at the Adelaide zoo)? 30 April (1975)

I sourced these facts from various websites and where numbers differed, I chose the one that seemed to be the most up to date. As you can guess, the answers to each fact invited discussion and inevitably there was at least one student who initiated it.

Creating the questions and answers is the hardest part of this game! From there, it gets so much easier!

Students firstly need to be put into groups. The number of groups depends on an important factor; the number of different coloured white board markers you have. Ideally groups of 4 students work the best as then everyone has a job, but it’s not a deal breaker if you can’t. I recommend using class dojo for creating groups as there is a feature that allows you to specify which students not to group together! To find it, follow these steps: Open Toolkit (bottom left), Open Group Maker then open the blue link “Don’t group together’. (See below). Here you can create multiple groups of students who are not to be in the same group. For me, this really helps with behaviour management because I can guarantee certain ratbags are separated which helps balance their leverage within group decisions.

Once the groups are in the EEKK position (sitting in a circle – eye to eye and knee to knee) explain there are 4 student jobs within their groups. I explained the jobs as we played the first round and left it up to groups to assign the jobs.

The first job is writer. Once allocated, I invited the writer to come to the front of the room and take one small white board, a white board marker and a mini duster.

Then the game begins….

Explain that the answers to all of the questions are numbers and that teams work together to decide on their answer which the writer will write on the white board in large numbers. When the number is written, the writer will hand the board to the walker, the second job holder. At this point, I asked the first question. It is important that groups decide quickly on the answer – thirty seconds is more than enough. All the boards are then placed side by side in front of a whiteboard. The boards simply need to be standing up side by side where all students can see them.

The writer next gives the marker to the ‘tukang simbol’ (the student who is confident drawing a triangle and an asterix) who after discussing with their group, will draw a triangle above the number that represents the groups best guess of the right answer and an asterix above the board that is their groups second guess. If supremely confident, teams can put both symbols above the same board.

When all teams are seated and listening, read out the question again and its answer.

Finally is the awarding of points and introducing the final job. Before announcing team points, the tukang simbol hands the tukang skor -scorer – (final job) the marker who will add the team points to the score board as the teacher announces them. For this, I allocated team names based on the colour of their marker to save time but choosing team names could also be built into future games! It is in the awarding of points that you will recognise the genius of different coloured markers!

Here is how I awarded points:

3 points to the teams who guessed the exact answer
1 point to the teams who guessed closest to the correct answer without going over.
1 point to each team with an asterix above the correct answer
2 points to each team with a triangle above the correct answer.

Board showing symbols and scores after two rounds with the year 2/3 class.

Reflections

I played this entirely in English. This was deliberate to ensure the game worked and allowed me to consolidate the rules and equipment for students so that if I set it for another relief day, students can support the relief teacher. I began experimenting with creating a powerpoint to support the game and to explore the Indonesian vocabulary necessary to play it. The beauty of this is that images and info can be included to supplement discussions about aspects of the topic. For example, the first slide for the orangutan topic could include images of the three different species of orangutan to illustrate their similarities ad differences.

The game itself took quite a bit more time than I expected to explain the roles and the rules. This meant that classes rarely moved beyond two rounds. Thus I recommend making it the main part of your lesson the first time you introduce this to classes. It would be a fabulous lesson for week 10!!

I trialled it with year 2/3’s to year 8’s and all classes thoroughly enjoyed it.

Formative Assessment Task Idea

This Friday, our site is having a student free day (SFD) – meaning all staff will be attending a full day of professional development. Working this year at an R-12 area school, there will be a secondary program and a primary program running concurrently. The primary team is focusing on the grammar scope and sequence while the secondary is focusing on differentiation. Its novel having the opportunity to join other specialist subject teachers after years of primary PD, which ironically lacked in inclusivity and differentiation.

As the SFD backs onto a long weekend, I loose two days of lessons. Last Wednesday I had a brain wave. Why not create an assessment task for the Thursday/Tuesday lessons and hold over my planned lessons till next week thus reducing my planning load over the long weekend! I also wanted to address the appalling student behaviour in upper primary/secondary as experienced on Tuesday. There was no point continuing to story ask with so many students being disruptive.  And on top of this, reports are due soon, so the idea of creating an assessment task to finalise grades which requires quiet independent work was extremely appealing. The task I created worked brilliantly and I am keen to share the idea with you.

Before students arrived, I arranged the chairs around the room evenly spaced apart – making sure that comfortable chairs were separated by plastic chairs to separate friendship groups that have preferences for one or the other. On each chair, I put a clipboard. As students entered the room, I informed them not to move the chairs unless they preferred the idea of sitting at the front of the room on the floor!

The tukang kertas (paper distributor) and the tukang pensil (pencil distributor) were asked to distribute lead pencils and blank sheets of blank A4 paper. Students were next instructed to lipat (fold) the paper tiga kali (three times) and I demonstrated several times as I repeated ‘lipat’. I gave my folded demo sheets to the tukang kertas & tukang pensil or anyone who walked in late.

This task is based on the Hadiah (The Present) film clip year 6-8’s have been working on this term, I created 8 sentences that represented the structures and gist of the story so far and then arranged them in length order.

Here are my sentences (Note the characters’ name as chosen by the 4 different classes!):

  1. Di dus ada anjing.
  2. Anjing punya tiga setengah kaki!
  3. Damo/Peppa Pig/Bruce/Fat Mike buka dus.
  4. Damo/Peppa Pig/Bruce/Fat Mike lempar anjing.
  5. Ibu kasih Damo/Peppa Pig/Bruce/Fat Mike hadiah.
  6. Damo/Peppa Pig/Bruce/Fat Mike bermain gem di TV.
  7. Tiba-tiba, Damo/Peppa Pig/Bruce/Fat Mike lihat kaki anjing.
  8. Ibu berkata, “Damo/Peppa Pig/Bruce/Fat Mike, ada hadiah di dus!”

Students were asked to listen to me say each sentence and then translate it into English, writing each one into one of the 8 squares. I repeated each sentence many times very slowly and only moved to the following sentence when I noticed that everyone had stopped writing.

Year 8

When all sentences had been translated, I asked students to turn their sheet over. Depending on the amount of time left in the lesson, I asked for a number of the English sentences to be translated back into Indonesian and again one sentence per square. The choice of the sentences was entirely up to each individual student. Finally, students had to number their Indonesian sentences to indicate the order they appear in the storyline. This high achiever translated all sentences back into Indonesian!!

Year 7 Graded = A

Some students struggled with both tasks and after looking at their work, I believe their struggle is closely linked to poor literacy skills and the low confidence this creates. I did emphasize before and during the task for students not to worry about spelling as you can see by the images above. I hoped that this would help lower anxiety and increase output and for some this really made a difference! For those who did struggle, I asked that they purely translated the single words/phrases they comprehended. Here is an example of work that I gave a D for:

Year 8

Upon completion of the task, students were asked to choose between sitting silently or illustrating the sentences quietly. I did not want students wandering around the class or disrupting those still working.

Reflections:

  1. Next Tuesday, I will not state the number of translations back into Indonesian. Instead I will give students 5 minutes to do as many as possible in that time frame. This way everyone will finish together.
  2. This task beautifully clarified how much of the language we have been focusing on this term has been comprehended and acquired. Asking for an English translation was a more precise formative assessment task than doing a listen and draw would have been.
  3. After marking the two classes who did this task, I was blown away with the overall result. Unfortunately I did have to give a few D’s for work that was incomplete &/or incorrect. On the other hand, the number of students who received an A for the task was so heartening. Without a doubt though, the best moment was discovering that a year 8 student had transferred grammatical knowledge (noun adjective word order) covered last term into her translation. She also edited her code switching and removed the third person possessive ‘s’!! Woo-hoo!
Year 8 Graded = A+

Colleagial Sharing

Last week, I was again delighted to have a colleague travel all the way to my new school location for observations and sharing. Now that I live in a small rural community two and a half hours from Adelaide, collegial visits are even more appreciated. Fortunately within the school district are three Indonesian CI teachers, two of whom are teaching and one enjoying maternity leave, however the distances between us range from 5 mins to two and a half hours!!

Bu Heather spent Friday in my classroom last week. Friday is a great day for visitors as I teach a full day of Receptions  to year 7’s however it is also the one day in my working week that I have no non-contact, two yard duties and my year 2/3 lesson is held in an adjacent classroom to allow the online instrumental music program access to the required hardware currently situated in the Indonesian language room.

During the day, Bu Heather kindly offered to share a couple of her favourite activities; one a brain break and the other a post story activity.

The brain break is called Ayam Karet and is based on a choir warm up. This link shows you a very conservative version and I am truly regretting not recording Bu Heather’s version which is significantly more engaging. The voice she demonstrated was a squeaky one with a specific mouth formation which the students adored echoing! The finale of the brain break involves everyone together saying ‘ayam karet’ while wiggling low to the ground before making chook wings with arms and then clucking like a chicken to the standing position. As Heather pointed out (and students later demonstrated) this brain break is awesome but needs a prearranged signal to bring everyone back to their seats quietly. For getting students warmed up with a smile on their faces, this brain break is a winner!

The post story activity that Bu Heather demonstrated is called ‘diatas kepala’ (on top of your head). It involves students drawing/illustrating either a structure or sentence on a whiteboard placed on top of their head. My students absolutely loved the challenge of this activity and enjoyed sharing their efforts with friends. It truly was extremely engaging and has heaps of potential. It has been blogged about before by Cynthia Hitz and Martina Bex!!

I was truly grateful for the breaks Bu Heather gave me as I was struggling to find my mojo all day. I discovered the reason for this early the following day when I was hit with a sledgehammer of a bug targeting my throat.  I hope I don’t lose my voice! Fingers crossed Bu Heather didn’t take it home with her!

Planning idea for the TRT….

First day of term 2 and I am sick! So disappointed to be missing out on a day of the honeymoon week that is always the first week back. At my current site, we are required to write up notes for our TRT (subsitute teacher) which is often harder than just turning up. However in these COVID times, soldiering on is no longer an option. Mostly writing for a TRT is hard but doable, however sometimes, like now, my brain feels like glue and concentrating on anything for longer than 30 minutes is impossible. I texted my DP to let her know all of this and she kindly offered to find a few activities for me if I hit the wall. I was so grateful for this! I then fell back into bed where an idea suddenly popped into my brain. What if the students each created a story using their own likes and dislikes eg food, people, places?

Here is what I created:

The story then begins likes this:

I have tried to keep the language as simple as possible because my TRT usually know no Indonesian so students will be relying on their own acquisition and the word wall. My lessons are 50 mins long, so after filling in the missing words, I have asked the students to create a comic strip using only Indonesian with the reminder that names of people, places and brand names do not change in Indonesian. I added this to remind students that characters speaking in ‘Indonesian’ comics will speak in Indonesian!!

The layout could be clearer, eg putting brackets around the numbers for starters, but I still have my fingers crossed that this idea is successful for my year 6,7 and 8’s today and the TRT.

I would love your feedback on this idea and am especially keen to hear of any suggestions for improvement.
Stay tuned for an update after I return to work hopefully on Thursday.

Starting Anew

This year I have moved to a new school in a small country town to teach Indonesian. It has been extremely challenging adapting after such a long time at my previous site, but I have absolutely no regrets about the move. As I look back over the term, there are several points I’d like to explore and hopefully in this, they will help others who may be considering moving sites or have already done so.

The biggest challenge for me moving to a small town by myself was that the only person I knew here was the person I was replacing! Chatting on the phone to the wonderful Senora Anna/ Ibu Anne about my feelings of loneliness made me realise that this was the first time I had moved schools by myself! With all my previous moves, there was always someone with me; someone who was also adapting to a new place and who was also navigating unfamiliar streets, shops and people. Let me tell you, it’s super tough by yourself! I felt so conspicuous everywhere; just walking around my neighbourhood felt awkward and uncomfortable.

So, if there is anyone new at your site, please reach out to them as soon as possible. I wasn’t expecting meal invitations! I just wanted people to say hello and ask how I was going! The fact that the staff at my new site didn’t do this is not a reflection on them personally, it actually speaks volumes about their workload. They hit the ground running! So today; please take the time to smile and say hello to anyone new on your staff. It will honestly make their day!

On top of loneliness, another huge challenge has been two hundred and fifty new students. After almost eighteen years at the previous site where I knew every student as well as their families extremely well, it has been a steep learning curve for me starting again. A kind and thoughtful colleague from the previous site gave me a notebook as a farewell gift which has been invaluable. Every day it sits open on my desk and in it I jot down any thoughts I have during and post lessons. The most frequent comment I wrote to myself was; get to know the students. It was super difficult to build connections with students at first when I knew nothing about them; not even their names!! Without connections, students push back on everything. This in turn necessitated strong behaviour management routines however there are only so many students you can have in classroom timeout at any one time!! Without a doubt, the best strategies that have helped with behaviour management have been incorporating nakal/pandai points (Ibu Sharon), phoning home (Ben Slavic) and classroom jobs (Bryce Hedstrom).

Nakal/Pandai

I have blogged about this technique several times. Read here and here. As you will quickly notice, in the past I only used pandai/nakal points with junior primary students. Sharon and Hannah though, use it successfully with all ages and it has also become one of their classroom jobs. A student tallies the points as they are accrued and then at the end of the lesson, they tell the teacher the total for each in the target. language. Another aspect of how Sharon and Hannah implement this is that at the beginning of each year, they hand out a small paper rectangle to students who then each write their name on one before decorating it. These then are placed in a class envelope for a random student to be selected from if the nakal points are less than the pandai. This lucky student then has a dip in the treasure box while their name is added to the paper clip in the envelope of all those who have already had a turn! I highly recommend this as it allows you to surreptitiously ensure your ‘selection’ is appropriate. Unfortunately some classes suggested using the random option on class dojo to which I agreed before remembering the benefits of the envelope! To get around this, I have instigated a rule that any student on a step is ineligible for a dip in the treasure box for that lesson. A special mention to Sharon who raided her local shops for prizes for my treasusre box and I recieved in the courier a parcel full of goodies that have been very popular. Thank you so much Sharon!

Phoning Home

Overall my new students are great kids however in most classes there are a small group of disrespectful ones who constantly challenged and sabotaged the lesson. As a new teacher, I was treated like a TRT. This on top of managing some tricky students with special needs, was extremely disheartening. So I dug out my TCI/TPRS books for ideas on behaviour management.

In one of Ben Slavic’s I discovered his main tip for behaviour management with new students. He strongly recommends phoning parents as early as possible as this, he promises, will stop misbehaviour instantly. He also suggested offering to phone students’ parents as a reward option! I really like the idea of offering to phone home to say how well a student is progressing in Indonesian! I understand the value of phoning home but the idea of phoning new parents in a new community really pushed me out of my comfort zone! I was terrified. I imagined several scenarios where the phone call was not successful. So, in the end I do what I am very good at, I put my head in the sand, procrastinated and soldiered on.

I am so grateful to a bunch of colleagues who in week 5, travelled long distances to spend a day observing me for a day. Their support, encouragement and feedback at that time was invaluable. I will be eternally grateful for their positive comments and constructive feedback at a time when I was feeling so alone. They also reminded me again that it takes a while to settle into a new school! A very important fact that I keep overlooking!

Then in week 8, I had the ‘Week From Hell’! Everything that could go wrong did. Student behaviour dropped to an all-time low and consequently I became severely sleep deprived directly caused by the stress. A truly vicious cycle. I took Thursday off to recharge my batteries and mentally regroup but Friday was no better. In fact I burst into tears when a friend came into my room after school to commiserate on the terrible day.  I wanted to retire then and there. I shuffled dispiritedly home and spent the weekend resting and trying to regroup ready for Monday. By Monday, I was resigned to the fact that I just had to be super tough and consistently put students through the steps regardless of any consequences.

On opening my email, I discovered that parent student conferences were scheduled fot the following week. Perfect!! This was the final impetus to finally make a few phone calls. I rang one parent to ask if she was free during the week of conferences to come in and chat with me. I then rang another. The first parent returned my call and arranged a time. The second parent has yet to return my call, however her son has been significantly better behaved, so obviously the call in itself was worthwhile. As a result of just two calls and a meeting, there has been a noticeable improvement in behaviour.

In retrospect, knowing what I know now, I should have made the calls earlier. So if you too are procrastinating about ringing parents, I highly recommend making a list of the key students and then approaching other staff you trust to ask about the benefits of making the call. Best too to get a heads up on volatile parents which may have worrying repercussions for the student.

Classroom Jobs

I blogged about classroom jobs in 2015. As can be seen in the post, I first heard about classroom jobs from Ben Slavic. Bryce Hedstrom is now the go to person for thoughts and tips on student jobs.

Classroom jobs are a great example of why getting to know your students is a priority at a new site. I prefer to incorporate student jobs early in each school year and it has always been hugely successful. Until this year! In week two, I began by introducing three jobs and only got as far as choosing a secretaris and a tukang foto; both essential for Kursi Luar Biasa. I had intended to also hold auditions for the ketua kelas position as well but only did so with one class. I learned very quickly that in order for students to be invested in auditioning for jobs, they had to trust me on not only the importance and value of the job and also the selection of the ‘winner’. Thus I recommend starting with just a sekretaris and tukang foto with new students and ensure that there is an aspect of the job that makes it desirable. In my classes, it was that these two people were the only ones who could sit on the sofa! The ketua kelas will instead be introduced in other classes next term!

Once students start to ask about replacing the sekretaris and/or tukang foto, I know they finally value jobs and can see the benefits! This then leads me nicely to explaining that job holders hold their jobs for as long as they want it. I used to change job holders regularly (every 5 weeks) but doing this used to take a whole lesson!! I prefer to encourage students to think of a new and different job that supports the teaching and learning of Indonesian and they would are happy to do. I illustrate this by pointing out that while cleaning up after lessons is a useful thing to do, it does not help teaching and learning. It’s fascinating what ideas students come up with. I also make the jobs desirable by offering job holders special seating options. In past classrooms, they had first pick of the limited chairs available and this year they are the only students who enjoy a comfy chair to sit on. The comfy chairs (old staff chairs rescued from the furniture shed covered in a piece of batik) are placed at the back of the room and while not intentional, their placement has meant that students are easier to manage now that the class has three separate seating options! Comfy chairs are currently along the back wall, plastic chairs are arranged in semi-circle facing the interactive tv and the third seating option is on the floor in front of the plastic chairs.

Since my 2015 post, I have tweaked the student jobs several times in several ways; both in what they are called and what they are. I am a huge believer in using multifunctional language in the primary classroom. This language is based on the language I believe my students would find useful if/when they visit Indonesia or talk to an Indonesian/Malay person. Just so happens that there are at least two Malaysian families each owning a Malay take away food shop in two nearby towns! Woohoo! I spoke Indonesian while ordering my food and everyone I spoke to was incredibly friendly and happy for me to use Indonesian. (Note: Please be respectful and aware of the current political animosity between Indonesia and Malaysia.) A couple of weeks ago (prior to phone calls home) several of my students asked about the value of learning Indonesian. They were absolutely amazed to learn that they could use Indonesian so close to home.

So, the language I use for my jobs is simple and centres on the word ‘tukang’ (skilled expert). Last week the number of job holders started to increase significantly as interest in them grew. Not every class has the full range of these jobs yet, but it won’t take long before word gets around!

My current jobs:

  •  tukang foto – Photographer
  • tukang menulis– writes information on the board
  • tukang diam – shusher:  at a gesture from me, they stand and loudly say DIAM, 1,2,3 by which time the class must be quiet. Repeated as often as required!
  • sekretaris – secretary
  • tukang proxy – proxy (must be prepared to do any job when needed)
  • tukang kertas – hands out paper
  • tukang pensil – hands out, counts, sharpens pencils
  • tukang klipboard – hands out clipboard (great opportunity to discuss c/k
  • polisi – keeps track of behaviour – good and bad – with details
  • tukang hp – answers the class phone during lessons
  • Ketua kelas – welcomes adults to the Indonesian classroom
  • Tukang pandai/nakal – records points as they are accrued

Last week was tough with students being super excited about the Easter long weekend. However I was so relieved to see that with a few stategic nakal/pandai points, I was able to settle classes quickly and teach with minimal interruptions. I didn’t realise just how improved the students were for me until during a hand over discussion with a TRT for the second lesson, I was warned that her class had been extremely disrespectful during lesson 1. The behaviour she described sounded all too familiar, small stuff but so disruptive. I was therefore amazed when they settled almost immediately after entering the Indonesian classroom and I had no problems with anyone. Next time she is in, I will enourage her to send to me any ratbags and I will deal with them appropriately!! GRRR

Fingers crossed though that students continue being settled and respectful in my lessons next week after a long weekend feasting on sugar!! Most classes will be illustrating book pages as I anticipate that this will be all that they are capable of doing!!

If you are also new at your site, what has been helpful for you? Did you also face some of the issues I have struggled with this term? I really hope you too are starting to feel a sense of belonging and familiarity.