Here is the latest round of classroom mishaps for your enjoyment:
To blend four sounds, the students have to blend consonant cluster sounds together. These can be tricky so my classes have been focusing on these by drilling the pronunciation, isolating the sounds at the start or end of the word, blending random pairs and building their vocabulary with the specific target sound.
I wrote ‘br’ on the board and asked the students to blend /br/. Then, using a soft ball, we threw the ball around the class and provided ‘br’ words. I mimed out ‘brain,’ ‘bright,’ ‘broom,’ ‘bring,’ then also gave clues such as, “Not your sister, but your…[brother]” and “Not scared but…[brave].” One student caught the ball and shouted “Bra!” which was correct, but I didn’t relish explaining that one to the 4 year old boys in the class.
Art of deduction
As I’ve mentioned before on this series of posts, I enjoy asking the children to use context to understand the meaning of an unfamiliar word. When the word ‘stung’ came up, I said that a bee or a wasp may do this. One student raised her hand confidently and said that it meant when you take out your tongue. That’d be some party trick!
Before setting any task for the class, I’ve been taught not to simply ask, “Do you understand?” or “Do you know what to do?”
The obvious reason for this is that the child may have no idea but could answer, “Yes” before doing something else completely.
So, I always give an example before asking concept questions to check the students know what to do. For example, “Are you writing or speaking?” / “Are you working on our own or in pairs?” / “How long do you have for this task?” / “How many paragraphs?” or “Which tense?”
After going through this rigmarole, I love it when a pupil raises their hand five minutes later and utters those dreaded words, “What are we doing?” or even worse, “Which page are we on?” Patience is a virtue that teachers must have in abundance.
The perfect crime. Just call me Fagin
Public service announcement
During our reading classes, it is important that the children listen when it is another student’s turn to read their vocabulary words / lines. One of my students often loses her etiquette stars as she gets overexcited and either blurts out the word or tries to remember what the word means out loud.
I encourage her curiosity but equally I have to set boundaries or none of the others would get a word in. This week she lost ALL her stars because she had some exciting news that she just couldn’t contain. When I eventually allowed her to share during the halfway break, she exclaimed, “I have wobbly teeths!”
Living in Southeast Asia, there are many strange things that the locals eat which would have sent me reeling as a child. Delicacies like the spiky, green-fleshed durian that is so pungent it is banned on all public transport, or the popular boiled chicken feet, or the ice kacang dessert that contains kidney beans and sweetcorn.
There is the intriguing ‘Kickapoo’ and ‘Bird’s Nest’ drinks, the Roald Dahl-sounding ‘soursop’ juice which is surprisingly tasty, and not forgetting the annual obsession for the shockingly expensive ‘Abalone’ (that’s canned sea snails to you and me). Even longan, which tastes deliciously sweet, would have wrinkled up my nose as the fruit looks exactly like mini jellyfish.
In class, I asked if any of the children had eaten oysters before. Some said yes and when I asked how, they mimicked slurping them from the shell. I (childishly) said I did not like them as they tasted like bogeys. I asked who liked eating bogeys. Half the class raised their hands.
(Rifling through the paper recycling bin)
Finally, I leave you with a small gift that a student gave me on his final lesson. Teaching is so rewarding.