Wrangling – Teaching Preliterate Students – Part 1: Classroom Management

This poster underpins my classroom management system and I gratefully acknowledge the wonderful Annie Beach for her brilliant illustrations. These three verbs, I believe, are structures that successfully guide all students to become successful language learners. They are thus, a great place to start with preliterate learners and right from the start, help the teacher work towards staying in the target language during lessons.

I introduce the above poster during the very first Indonesian lesson and the language is reviewed every lesson. To facilitate acquisition, the structures are introduced both orally and with hand gestures e.g. duduk = two hands palm down pushing down towards the ground, diam = pointer finger in front of the mouth & dengar = hand cupped behind an ear. Movement opportunities for young preliterate students are beneficial for both acquisition and engagement. Engagement is vital for successful learning.

Initially, I put no demands on student expectations beyond duduk, diam, dengar. However once calling out in English needs to be addressed, I introduce the structures, ‘nakal’ and ‘pandai’. The following three slides demonstrate how I introduced my behaviour management system this year.

nakal/pandai = clever/naughty

satu stick = one stick
count the points

The first two slides are placed at the beginning of each lesson whereas the third is almost at the end and becomes the final task we do before singing sampai jumpa (goodbye) to each other. I have blogged about this system several times previously, so hopefully I won’t repeat myself too much. This post is a good one, however I no longer finish with the treasure box. I originally chose the structures nakal/pandai as they fit so well into the stories included in my scope and sequence. However, times have changed and while I’d feel extremely uncomfortable using the words clever/naughty in an English context, I have kept nakal/pandai because they are just so typically Indonesian. I have though, recently changed the images to represent nakal/pandai. I feel that having monkeys adds humour, continues the monkey theme Bu Annie created and also avoids gender/cultural stereotyping. I haven’t and don’t translate the word ‘stick’ because it is such low frequency and reflecting upon my travels throughout Indonesia, cannot ever remember needing the word paddle pop stick!! Again, I introduce the new structures of nakal/pandai with gestures (pandai = tapping the side of the head with the pointer finger & nakal is the age old pointer finger going up and down with a frown) and then starting from the following lesson, the two structures are reviewed frequently during Kursi Luar Biasa (KLB); see here. The second slide early in first term, includes only the structures students have acquired to that point ie ‘satu’ (one). As soon as ‘mau’ (want) has been introduced, I add it to the slide. All written language on the PowerPoint slides is kept to a minimum and always includes a pictorial comprehension clue to support developing literacy skills.

As mentioned an earlier post, each class has a bundle of paddlepop sticks with a student’s name written on each. I now choose a different colour for each class to make it easier to reunite missing sticks to their correct bundle. From the container of paddlepop sticks, I select one stick, checking firstly that student is not absent. It is then stuck to the board near the two magnetic laminated mini posters of nakal & pandai with bluetak ensuring the students name facing the board awaiting the reveal at the end of the lesson.

Locating the stick together with the mini nakal/pandai posters is important. I am finding that each year, I face increasing numbers of young learners with minimal self-regulation skills. I am a strong advocate for the Zones of Regulation program which brilliantly helps students identify and regulate their emotions and also explicitly equips them with skills to self-regulate. Conversations about self-regulation in my lessons always occur in English not just because young students do not have the target language necessary, but also to ensure the conversation is succinct and comprehended. Lesson time is precious and my goal remains to maximise target language input opportunities within the constraints of working with each cohort.


The finale of my classroom behaviour system has so many benefits I barely know where to start! We still count the trallied points (see above) together. This process has been incredibly helpful for students developing strong knowledge and understanding of the Indonesian number system, including noticing that an Indonesian 7 is written differently to an Australian 7. Counting the points is hands down better than a number worksheet! Eventually with time and more stories, other structures can be incorporated into the counting routine eg big/small, which one, how many, biggest/smallest etc.
Once we’ve counted both tally sets, my spiel goes like this: 
Bu Cathy mau lihat stick (Bu Cathy wants to look at the stick)
Siapa? (Who is it?)
Class then suggests a students name. If incorrect, I negate saying, “Bukan Bob!” thus providing input on negating nouns in Indonesian. If the lesson is short of time, I add a clue e.g. laki-laki/perempuan (boy/girl). Now some students are asking me this!! Woohoo.
When the students’ name is guessed, I ask that student, “Mau duduk di kursi Luar Biasa?” (Would you like to sit in the awesome chair?) and will work towards the answer, “Mau/tidak mau” but also accept ya/tidak. I very rarely insist students participate in lesson tasks, so if a student declines, I assure them in English that it’s totally ok however I will ask them again during the year because they may change their mind!! I then choose another stick. Engagement and participation are not mutually compatible. The most important aspect is always input; not output! I really love, love, love that the ‘reward’ for a greater number of pandai points offers an experience rather than an object.
However, it also needs to be added, that if there are more nakal points, the stick goes back into bundle, and no-one knows whose stick it was. The follow-on consequence of this depends on the class. If they really need a consequence to emphasise my expectations to duduk, diam, dengar, then no-one sits in the chair the following week and instead, I invite an adult to sit in it instead! I love this as it gives the adult the opportunity to demonstrate how much Indonesian they have acquired!! Conversely, if the adult is new to our lessons, it then gives the students the opportunity to impress the adult by translating my questions!! Win/win! An alternative to this, is offering the current person a bonus week sitting in the kursi luar biasa! No-one has yet refused this!! Kwk, kwk

Wrangling – Teaching Preliterate Learners

Introduction

I thoroughly enjoy teaching junior primary! Teaching young learners Indonesian is enjoyable for numerous reasons including that they

– are highly motivated and engaged

– are keen volunteers

– are super inclusive and mutually supportive of each other

– adore anything wacky and quirky

– are not hormonal

– believe their teachers are superstars

– frequently mention how much they love learning Indonesian

Conversely though, as a TCI teacher, this would have to be one of the most challenging cohorts to work with. Especially if you are a teacher who is just beginning to explore using TCI or TPRS.  There is almost nothing available commercially or professionally, to either guide or support you on this journey unless you teach Spanish. Tweaking content written for older students doesn’t organically transition smoothly to a JP classroom context.  Teaching pre-literate (emerging literacy skills) learners is a whole new ball game. I would like to give a special shout out here to Amy Roe, creator of the ‘Storytellers Corner’ , and to Maestra Anna (aka Bu Anne ). While both are Spanish teachers (Anne also teaches Indonesian), they are both extremely approachable and I highly recommend reaching out to either or both if you like their resources but don’t teach Spanish.

However, finding appropriate resources is only one aspect of the challenging nature of working with preliterate students. Here are some of the other challenges:

  • Extremely short attention span
  • Inability to focus for more than 5-10 minutes
  • Emerging literacy skills – most are preliterate
  • Developing self-regulation skills
  • Developing understanding of personal space
  • Egocentric

My JP lessons now are taught via PowerPoints. I will admit though, that the initial ones took hours to create but eventually it became easier. Once a successful master has been created, each consecutive PowerPoint only requires slight tweaking. At the end of each story, PowerPoints can be easily saved till the next time that story is taught.

I began using PowerPoints after attending the ‘1000 Words; Using Picture Talk’ online workshop with Amy Roe. I immediately realised the huge advantages for using PowerPoints. Initially, it was to ensure lesson content was delivered consistently across like year levels. I found that when stressed and/or exhausted, I skipped parts of my written plan. Using PowerPoints stopped this in its tracks! Now if I skip something, it is intentional. Other advantages include being able to embed images and videos onto slides, removing the need to turn my back and all that potentially follows. If you are tempted to try using PowerPoints, I highly recommend investing in a wireless presenter so you can progress slides from anywhere in the classroom!

To overcome challenges while maximising the benefits, my PowerPoints aim to:

– limit the amount of text on slides,

– limit the number of target structures,

-maximise opportunities wherever possible to get repetitions of past and present target structures,

-balance the ‘up/down’ (see below) and

-include frequent movement opportunities.

Managing the input of L2 (Indonesiann for me) as well as the output of energy can extremely challenging with preliterate learners. Successful acquisition for preliterate learners requires very short engaging activities that are ’up/down’ in nature. ‘Down’- that which requires students to ‘duduk, diam, dengar’ (sit, shush, listen) and sandwiched between the ‘up’ that which is basically anything that gets learners standing up and moving around.

In building up this collection of pre-literate active input ideas, I am particularly grateful to Catharina G. As a long-time teacher of pre-literates, she has a wealth of knowledge and experience which she has shared generously in her role as my mentor and for that, I will be forever grateful to Ben Slavic for introducing us!

In upcoming posts, I plan to explain my teaching through the slides of a recent kindergarten (5-year-old) PowerPoint. I have broken this lesson into several posts to ensure I can comprehensively cover each aspect as well as emphasise the importance of limiting the judicious selection of structures for both current and future classroom management and stories.

Upcoming posts will cover:

Part One – Classroom Management

Part Two – Mengabsen using Class Dojo

Part Three – TPR

Part Four – Target Structure Review Activities

Part Five – Target Structure Introduction Activities

Part Six – Brain Breaks

If you can think of a topic that you would also like me to include, please comment below!!

Create Awesome GIF’s of your Pet!

Searching today for a GIF that is both appropriate for my young learner cohort and engaging, I had a sudden inspiration to google how to create my own. Turns out, I can make them easily on my iphone!! No app required! I discovered the increased level of engagement last week through a recent my talking pet video creation of my daughters’ cat singing.

https://youtube.com/shorts/SyTTw1E7r94?feature=share

Students were thrilled to discover that it was actually ‘my’ cat and not just a cat image available through the My Talking Pet app. Generated a lot of interest! Thus, to capitalise on this, I created a GIF of Lelo and it was so easy, I am inspired to share with you how I did it!! I am sure this can be done on android phones too!!

Here is a video of explaining how to do it!

It was so straightforward!!

I did notice though, that when I imported the GIF into my powerpoint, the loop feature was disabled but it was easy to fix that. In playback, I clicked on the ‘loop until stopped’ box.

2021 Reflection

Going through the Indonesian iPad yesterday before handing it back brought back so many memories of my year at KAS. I’d really like to share a few with you!

In first term, I did the ‘Murid Nakal’ story with middle primary. I absolutely love this story – great for acting and also perfect for reviewing behaviour management structures in the target language! I did change the ending this year because being at a new school and not knowing the staff or community, wanted to avoid recrimination for using a story that includes smacking! My 2021 version changed the hitting to push ups which worked but was nowhere near as funny! Here are some pictures of a lesson where we used Martina’s freeze frame idea.

In term 2, the next story middle primary did was the Tutup Pintu story. The students absolutely loved acting with the wigs my daughter gave me. Acting out the story is enjoyable as it not only provides the students with the opportunity to create their own class version but also gives the more outgoing students a chance to be outrageous which is extremely entertaining. In fact, being entertaining is one of my criteria that any student auditioning must demonstrate. Other criteria include following the storyline exactly as it is determined by the class and only speaking when your character has a line. Here are some of my amazing actors:

Year 6/7 Movie Talk – Hadiah

Year 5/6 Movie Talk – Hadiah

Year 4/5 Tutup Mulut

Year 3/4 Tutup Mulut
Year 2/3 Tutup Mulut

Kursi Luar Biasa

All year levels love KLB! I’ve particularly had success this year with JP classes. It is the perfect vehicle to spotlight one student with quirky questions using target structures. This term they did Catharina’s Ular story, so I enjoyed asking students ‘mau’ sentences incorporating ‘ular’ , ‘atau’ and alternatives based on previous story structures or cognates. I have two snake props, so students could choose between ular besar dan ular cobra! Another question that worked this term was introducing the concept of sarong. This provided discussion about the difference between sarongs for males/females. To begin, I just asked if students , “Mau pakai sarong laki-laki atau sarong perempuan?” After a few weeks, I added the question, “Mau pakai sarong ungu atau sarong kuning?” Great way to limited colours in a meaningful way. I then added the alternative of glasses. “Mau pakai sarong atau kaca mata?” While ‘kaca mata’ is not a cognate, I chose it because not only do I have a selection of different colours but as someone who was embarrassed to wear my glasses at school, I love ways to connect with those students who also wear them!! In the last photo, you’ll notice a Foundation student wearing a sarong and a pair of glasses. He answered my question with, “sarong DAN kaca mata!!” I was thrilled!!

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.

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!

Bluey

A recent PLC conversation prompted me to create a ‘movietalk’ based on the Bluey episode “Grannies”. My young students absolutely adore this TV show (search ABC iView) and honestly, my Mum and I do too!! For background on this TV show, see here. There are many things I love about Bluey and without doubt, the top most reason is the assumptions we all make about gender; even for very young students. It certainly is an excellent show for discussing gender stereotyping.

My movietalk went incredibly smoothly! When I opened the powerpoint, my students actually cheered! The students recognised the episode and many agreed with me that it was one of their favourite episodes too. A colleague, shout out to Julie M, asks her young students to share their favourite episodes from the past week! Isn’t that a great idea as a starting point to determine which episodes will connect with your learners!!

This episode has as usual, stories within stories, and most of the plot is outside the vocabulary acquisition of my reception (preppy) students, so I just focused on the mini plot that Nanna’s can’t floss dance. Unlike my attempt at storytelling last week where students chatted constantly (mostly to comment on my hilarious lack of drawing skills), you could have heard a pin drop they were so engaged! I am still gobsmacked at how successful it was.

To create a movie talk, I watched the episode and took screenshots of the main action. I then went through them all and eliminated all that required vocabulary my students have not yet acquired. Being fourth term, it is guaranteed that this will be a messy term (swimming, bookweek, etc), so I usually plan around consolidating what students already know through unfamiliar texts. I tossed up whether to use ‘nenek’ (Grandmother) in my text and decided not to. Instead I stayed with Nanna. Next week I plan to use this to kick off a conversation about the different names we call our grandmother and link this to Indonesia where ‘grandmother/nenek’ is also not the same word grandchildren call their grandmothers and that the names Indonesian grandchildren use also varies greatly.

I identified 15 pictures that had the potential for a mini story. I worried during the planning that this would be too many and so added in a TPR break in the middle to give them wiggle time, but it was totally unnecessary!! OMG I could get used to this!! Here is a snap shot of the screenshots and text I used.

I added text to my images to help me to stay in bounds with the story telling. I also believe that including text for junior primary students adds a level of complexity for my more literate students who enjoy reading along with me. (As I have learners throughout the school with developing literacy skills, I firmly believe it is vital that we support our students through using easy to read fonts eg. century gothic.) I discovered just how many were reading the text whenever I had inadvertently included an error. In copying and pasting text from one page to another, I had forgotten to change character names!! Nothing like teacher errors to inspire more to read and check for further mistakes!! A sneaky way to increase input through reading for meaning!!

The icing on the cake for this mini story was finding colouring pictures on the Bluey website and other unofficial sites. I used several colouring pictures to create a listen and match worksheet. Students needed to listen to a sentence, colour the matching text box with a certain colour and then link it to the appropriate illustration. The lesson finished with students colouring in the illustrations which they absolutely loved doing. With my first class, the colouring in was done together to get reps on colour vocabulary, but I gave my last class time to choose their own colours. Not convinced yet of the value that a single lesson has for revising more than two colours is for young learners.

A final step I will be taking is creating a book from the powerpoint pages to add to my class library. As Amy Roe recommended, laminate all pages to make the books last longer!! It also makes them look fantastic . Make sure you use matte laminate though – glossy laminate needs to be banished from all schools and classrooms! Order through Officeworks. Orders over $55 are delivery free which is basically the cost of one packet!! Awesome for those of us in non-metro areas!! Matte laminate is more expensive but worth every cent because posters become accessible to all learners regardless of where they are in the classroom! No reflections!!