Where Am I Going Wrong?

I had a truly tough week the week before last – one of those weeks where every day was a struggle. After nights of tossing and turning in bed, I woke each morning, dreading the day ahead feeling little motivation or excitement for what I’d planned. Each afternoon, as the final bell rang, I’d sigh with relief and head home as quickly as possible to collapse on my bed. Why? All due to a horrible combination of back pain and sleep deprivation! Incredibly debilitating.

The final straw for me was when the last class of that week (year 6/7’s) arrived into my room pleading not to ‘do any more stories’. That statement gutted me. However, I deftly avoided any discussion about it because I wasn’t in the right place to deal with it rationally and instead asked them what they would prefer to do, insisting that all suggestions had to be language orientated. It came down to a vote between grudge ball and Bop! & grudge ball won. I couldn’t find their story, so instead used another class’ story (same target structures based on the same movie talk) asking for translations of random sentences into correct English. It was still worthwhile and enjoyable, although in hindsight I should have also randomly awarded points to various groups for behaviours such as having a go, working as a team, staying positive etc. because as soon as one group appeared to be too far in the lead, several students found it difficult to remain positive!

Since that lesson, I have been self-evaluating to try to understand why stories have become boring &/or unappealing. Now that the pain and lack of sleep fog have reduced (thanks to my wonderful physio and remedial masseuse – you both rock) there are several issues that I have to address in order to get myself and my students back on the fun and enjoyable TPRS train.

 

Student Motivation

While this is the start of their 3rd year of TPRS, older students have just as much need for up/down based lessons as do the younger students. Expecting them to sit for the majority of their lesson (movie talks, story asking) has been unrealistic. I honestly believed that student performances would be sufficiently compelling and engaging to counter balance this but it just isn’t the case. My students would benefit from and appreciate a variety of frequent activities incorporating movement and unpredictability that provide more repetitions of the target structures. Whereas brain breaks provide learners with time out from heavy duty concentration, active tasks provide students with kinesthetic ways in which to consolidate language acquisition. These tasks need to become an integral part of my lessons. My aim now is to search for suitable activities that would serve this purpose and if you look back on the home page, you’ll see that I’ve added a new page titled ‘Target Structure CI Activities’ and as I find them, I’ll add new ones to the collection (any help building up this collection will be greatly appreciated).

 

Classroom Management

My classroom management system has relied up till now on students and has been in place with minimal changes for 2 years. I offer a variety of jobs that students can try out for and these include sekretaris, polisi, mendistribusi kertas, pensil dan clipboard, menghitung waktu, tukang foto, menghitung kata just to name a few. The polisi is tasked with monitoring the blurting yet this is not happening consistently across all classes. I need to incorporate a few more classroom management ideas to ramp it up. I really like Annabelle Allen’s idea of having a competition between teacher & class. I am definitely going to trial it next week. However, do I offer a reward if the students win? If so, what could it be? Or do I save this for later in the term/year in case once again, I need to ramp things up again to increase student engagement?

Another idea I have used in the past (I’m sorry that I can’t remember where I read this and thus can’t credit them) is to have an object (soft toy/prop) that is passed around the class to the person who blurted last. The idea being that whoever is holding it when the lesson finishes has a consequence. When I first used this idea, I struggled with the consequence but not anymore. I am going to bite the bullet, be tough and insist on output from that student! If that student has so much to say, then they can do a 5/10 minute free write or even better, record their voice reading/retelling the class story in their own time. Hopefully this will give me a sneaky insight into their level of acquisition in a way that also gives me the opportunity to speak to them about their behaviour and how it impacts on other students.

One further aspect that requires immediate action is ensuring that job holders understand that they play a vital role in our lessons. They are there to help us to be successful in Indonesian lessons (both teachers and students!) and if they are not able to do that, then there are plenty of others who would happily replace them. This would require me to be firmer and clearer with the expectation of those interested in filling these roles with the ultimate consequence being that students will be sacked if they are not consistently fulfilling their obligations. (By the way, how do I say in Indonesian, “You’re fired!”?)

 

Brain Breaks

I also must incorporate more brain breaks into my lessons for a variety reasons. Not only will this increase student activity but also give students a chance to relax, take a break and have fun. All students appreciate fun, regardless of their age! There is no good reason why brain breaks are an important component of my junior primary lessons and yet not for my older students. Up till now, I have tended to include a list of brain break ideas at the bottom of each lesson plan just in case students need one. The main reason (I think) that I have avoided incorporating more brain breaks into my older students lessons is that I worry about ‘wasting’ their precious lesson time. Some classes only get one 50 minute lesson per week and therefore each minute is precious. I need to turn that thinking around and acknowledge the value of frequent & short brain breaks and be prepared to relinquish class time in order for students to learn the skills necessary for seamlessly moving into and out of brain breaks. Surely the benefits in the long run outweigh the negatives. Maybe I could tie it in with Annabelle Allen’s classroom behaviour management technique? Adding tally points to me if they are too slow or for the students if they regroup quickly and quietly afterwards. I now understand her comment that brain breaks should be done before they are needed and if you wait till students need the break, you waited too long.

 

Setting Class Expectations

As usual during week one, the specialist teachers at my school all combined and addressed this as one team to students via games and activities in the gym. In week 2, I jumped straight into a movie talk, which I continued over the next few weeks, in between various absences due to my back. It was a hodgepodge start to the year. Some classes didn’t have an Indonesian lesson until week 4! While we are always wiser in hindsight, I realise now that this was a shabby start to the new school year especially considering I attended a TPRS conference during the holidays! I should have known better. One should never assume anything and as a consequence, I will need to go right back to basics starting next week. I plan to do that by reminding them of how they can become successful language learners  and then regularly asking them to show me a quick honest self-assessment using their fingers (out of 5) to show how many of the questions below were ya.  This will also include the reminder to job holders of their responsibilities and the possible consequences should they be failing this.

Student Success

I’ve just finished a webinar with Terry Waltz which for me mid-way through writing this post, was very timely! I did feel guilty at first for taking one of the very limited spots, but now I am very grateful that I did. One point she raised which fits perfectly into this post is about students feeling successful with their language acquisition. Terry suggested this could be done through exit quizzes, quick quizzes etc where the students always do well because for TPRS, its all about setting our students up for success. There is never a focus on incorrect answers, incorrect pronunciation, incorrect word order etc. It’s all about positive reinforcement and student high fives and it’s the major reason I heart TPRS. Students are never asked to revisit mistakes, never made to feel ‘dumb’ unlike in other subject areas where students are asked to walk through back their mistakes to understand where they went wrong! This is reflected in our class ‘bell curves’ when plotting data, because they are never ‘normal’. TPRS bell curves are heavily weighted towards the higher end of available grades/percentages unlike other subjects where it is more central.

 

Deconstructing Student Plea of ‘No More Stories Today!’

While spending quite a few hours trawling through fantastic TPRS blogs this morning (including those by Martina Bex & Keith Toda) looking for novel activities to get reps on target structures, it suddenly dawned on me that it wasn’t the story itself that the students were objecting to! It was all of the above issues that together created endless & predictable lessons with minimal spontaneity. Martina mentioned in one of her posts that all CI activities should not last more than 10 minutes, Terry Waltz also mentioned it yesterday in her webinar – I’ve heard and read this many times yet why do I feel compelled to keep going even when all the signs are telling me to STOP? It’s for a multitude of reasons yet the best thing of all is that I’ve finally realised what I believe was the unspoken message underlying my students plea.  I can now begin to address improving my effectiveness as an Indonesian teacher through incorporating more variety and movement into my lessons and thus re-engage my students.

 

NB: New goal – Overhaul lesson plans to incorporate all of the above points.

 

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Brain Breaks – Ide Kreatif

This year I have decided to return to a  3 day week instead of the 4 day week I have done for the past few years. Thus, here I sit at my dining room table on a Monday morning after a physically active weekend, throughly enjoy a calm and relaxed start to my week. It is the perfect way to mentally prepare me for my upcoming teaching week.

I scrolled through my WordPress reader this morning (something I don’t do often enough) and discovered a few great posts about brain breaks. Last week, upon reflection, I realised I didn’t incorporate anywhere near enough brain breaks into my lessons, especially for my younger students. It is always tough at the beginning of a new year remembering that all the classes are new and that the year 2/3 class is still really only a 1/2 class and will need a lot more movement and action in their lessons to keep them engaged and focused.

Brainbreaks are so important for a variety of reasons, not least because they give the poor brain a rest. Annabelle Allen has a terrific blog worth exploring and in it are quite a few posts about brain breaks. She recommends that they are done often and before students get restless, not as a result of restless students!! Looks like I will have to change my ideas about my 50 min lesson plans. Up until now, my priority has always been the class story however I think I need to rethink that and consider that student engagement should be the higher priority. If students are engaged and having fun (in Indonesian), everything else should fall sweetly into place! Do you agree? 

The key though is coaching students that brainbreaks are a quick break (like a commercial) and when it’s finished, they all return to their seats and we resume from where we were with no talking or discussion. 

I’ve got a brain break word document saved to my USB that I’ve been compiling over the past 2 years. Each time I read of a brain break that I think would work with my students, I add it to the list (if you’d like a copy send me your email address). The beauty of this is that when I am planning, I can just open the document and then scroll through all my ideas and pick out the ones that best supports the target structure, the time of year &/or the student cohort. I then add the ideas to my lesson plan so that I can quickly run my eyes over the suggestions and go with what is best for that moment. If I don’t do this, I’ve discovered that my brain goes on auto pilot and all I can think  of are; Bu Cathy berkata & satu kaki which may lead to these brainbreak activities loosing their novelty if I’m not careful.

Here are a few new brain breaks I have just read about and am now looking forward to using in my classroom:

Class Selfie (Annabelle Allen) – using your phone/ipad, say, “Ayo, selfie!” then count backwards from sepuluh to satu, and then take a class selfie. These photos would be awesome in school newsletters, on class blogs and Annabelle also suggests using these photos to crop student faces for using in power points!! Isn’t this idea just ingenious!

Manikin Challenge – (Annabelle Allen) – 

During a scene reconstruction for a story retell  incorporate as many students as possible from the class and then the teacher walks around the tableau who are frozen and not speaking or moving one little bit to record it. Any students who can’t have their image uploaded, need to have creative ways in which to obscure their faces.

Double this, Double that – 

I’ve been wracking my brain for weeks now ever since discovering this awesome hand clapping rhyme for an Indonesian phrase that work. Here is what I came up with this morning as I think ahead to this weeks target structure of ‘sayang’:

Sayang, sayang I, I

Sayang, sayang bu, bu.

Sayang i, sayang bu

Sayang, sayang ibu.

And it could also be then done with other family members including bapak/ayah, and adik/kakak:

Sayang, sayang a, a

Sayang, sayang dik, dik.

sayang a, sayang dik,

Sayang, sayang adik.

and the best one to finish with :

Sayang, sayang, kak, kak

Sayang sayang kak, kak

Sayang kak, sayang kak

Sayang sayang kakak!!

Binatang – (still searching for where I found this) students in groups/rows each choose an animal. Students can not talk, they can only make the noise of their chosen animal. Then when they each have an animal, they have to arrange themselves in a line from largest to smallest, again not saying a word, only making the noise of the animal!! Finish by choosing one line and having the students sound off down the line with their animal sound!

Charades – ask for 3 students to come out the front. Show them a word/phrase in the target language. They then have to act it out so that the rest of the class can guess what it is. Class then votes on whose acting was the funniest. 

Awesome Preposition Indonesian Brain Break – MI, Mi, Mi

One of the fantastic things we learned last week from our AIYEP visitors was a hand clapping rhyme that my middle and upper primary students absolutely loved.

Farah typed out the tweaked lyrics and I put them up on the smart board.

Mi, Mi, Mi

mi atas, mi bawah

mi depan, mi belakang

mi satu, dua, tiga

mi empat, lima, enam

mi ciyo, ciyo, ciyo

mi gulung, gulung, gulung

gulung-gulung kasur

 

I firstly asked the students to watch  Kak Farah, Kak Ricky, Kak Oscar & Kak Rini. They paired up and demonstrated the hand clapping rhyme. After a few repetitions, I then asked for volunteers to come forward and have a go with the ‘kakaks’. The aim was to get as many repetitions of the rhyme as possible before the students did it themselves and this would increase both their confidence and chances of success!! Again, the volunteer students had 2 goes with their mentor kakak’s.  The class then looked at the lyrics briefly. This was to purely show them what had been chanted and also to quickly translate to explain most of the hand movements.

Students were then asked to choose a partner (student or kakak partner) and be ready to start. We all together chanted satu, dua, tiga, (1,2,3) then began the hand clapping rhyme following along with the kakak’s. There was much hilarity while students had a go for the first time with a partner. Again, for the final time, students were asked to repeat the rhyme with this partner. Then to ramp it up, I asked everyone to change partners, ala Pak Iriantos’ workshop at ASILE. We continued chanting the rhyme and changing partners over and over again, after each run through. It was a great way for students to get repetitions on the rhyme with new partners in a fun way.

Here is a snippet showing you just how much fun it was:

2016 – AIYEP in South Australia

Have you or your students heard of AIYEP ? Even though AIYEP has been around for 35 years, I have only just  learned of it and then only by chance!

 

AIYEP (pronounced Ay-yep) is the commonly used acronym for the Australian Indonesian Youth Exchange Program. This program was established in 1981 and is fully supported by the Australian Government (DFAT) and the Indonesian Government (Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sport) and promotes peace and understanding between our two countries. Each year the program is based in a different state/Territory in Australia and in Indonesia it is held in a different province. This year, it is based in South Australia and Sulawesi.

 

The participants, 9 men and 9 women, aged 21-25 years, are chosen from applicants who are either undertaking tertiary studies or working in sectors that will contribute to improving bilateral relationships.

 

Here in SA, we are almost at the end of the first half of the program. 18 Indonesian youths have 3 days left before heading back to Adelaide to meet the 18 Australian youths who will soon be flying to Indonesia for the final part of the program. The Indonesians arrived almost 2 months ago and have enjoyed staying with host families in firstly a city setting and then lastly a rural setting while enjoying work experience placements relevant to their chosen career path. 

 

Our region is about to host the farewell ceremony for the Indonesian group who have been here on the Fleurieu Peninsular for just over 2 weeks. Having 18 Indonesian youths in our community has been such a bonus for our Indonesian language programs. Several local families have offered to be the host families for our visitors and are just loving the opportunity to get acquainted with their temporary adopted son/daughter! Due to Indonesian cultural norms, it is usually difficult for them to address adults by their christian name, so they were encouraged to address their host parents are Mum/Dad. The variations of this have been hilarious. At the Victor Harbor Christmas Pageant last night, I smiled each time I heard someone being addressed as ‘Mom’ or even ‘Daddy’. No matter how many times it is explained that ‘Mom’ is American and not used in Australia, it has continued! Too much exposure to USA TV content?

 

At PEPS, we were fortunate to host 5 for their work placement; 4 in the primary school and one in the kindergarten. The first week was crazy as our inaugural Twilight Pasar Fundraiser was to be held that Friday. They spent equal time observing classroom teachers and supporting Indonesian lessons. Due to crazy pasar preparations, I wasn’t able to explain in any detail about the pedagogy I’m using in my classroom but thankfully Sharon did at Victor R-7, which led to quite a bit of discussion last night at the Christmas Carol concerts between those from education sectors. Prima is so enthusiastic to learn more about TPRS and use it in her classrooms!! Isn’t that exciting?

 

The AIYEP group has had 4 days each week at their work placement and then each Friday, reconnected as a group and traveled around visiting local schools to perform a selection of cultural dances. Their first day of their cultural performances on the Fleurieu coincided with the inaugural Twilight Pasar and was easily one of the highlights of our pasar. The costumes and dances were amazing. Each participant wore traditional clothing from their regions: Aceh, Riau, Java, Kalimantan, Ternate, Papua, Sulawesi and Bangka Belitung. img_1818Consequently their clothing varied immensely, especially that of the women. Sylvi from Java wore a beautiful cobalt blue sarong and jacket with her hair gathered back for an enormous bun. I’ve only seen her in casual clothes; the transformation was breath taking. Fadilla wore a long dress that she adapted to represent the traditional clothing of Central Sulawesi. The bodice was pink and covered in twinkling gold sequins and she also wore a matching tiara. Her layered black skirt had colourful dangling beads hanging from each layer. Her gold earrings were attached to her ears over her kerudung which strangely looked fantastic! Hannet and Luis from Papua wore grass skirts together with lots of body paint and shell necklaces. Their clothing added such a lovely balance to the group as it is so different from the traditional sarong and kebaya.

 

At PEPS, we had Ricky, Oscar, Farah (Fadilla) and Rini in the primary school and Odah in the kindergarten. During the first week, I presented them with their timetable and sent them off to classes for observations and then in the second week, they were given a choice to continue observing or stay in the Indonesian room. I’m thrilled they chose the latter! Post Pasar, the students were restless, so it was perfect that we had decided to teach traditional children’s games to small groups of students. Oscar chose cublak- cublak suweng, Rini chose bekel, Ricky chose pecah piring and Farah chose lompat karet. Because it was to be a fun week, I asked the students to get into 5 groups and then asked each group which activity they’d like to learn/do. My activity was congklak which most students already know so I was able to get my group going and then walk around taking photos of other groups. Because all but congklak was unfamiliar, there were no disappointed groups. Boys tended to select Oscar & Ricky and it was lovely watching them play simple children’s games and have so much fun. It really was a fantastic way for the students to interact with our visitors.

As the first lesson of the 2016 timetable is a planning lesson, Farah, Ricky, Oscar & Rini used this time on the second Tuesday to film themselves demonstrating and explaining the rules for each game. It took them a while to adjust to speaking slowly and restricting their vocabulary but the final result is awesome. Here are the videos that have been uploaded to YouTube so far:

 

 

We are going to miss them once they leave our region this Wednesday morning!

 

However the main point of this post is not just to share what we have been doing but also so that you can share this information with your students. Lets hope relations between Indonesia and Australia continue to improve so that programs like this continue to be available for our students in their future. There are so few programs like this (that I know of) that encourage Indonesian Language students to continue with their language learning, offering them an achievable goal as it is a fully funded DFAT program.

 

For more information, see the AIYEP website.

ASILE 2016 – Games & Activities for Language Classes

One of the workshops we attended on Sunday was led by Pak Irianto Ryan Tedya. It was a very enjoyable workshop with songs and games, 2 of which would be ideal as a brainbreak or for TPR.

The first game he shared was ‘dam dam sut’ which is his own variation of ‘suten’ (gajah, orang, semut). This game reinforces the target structures:

  1. Kita seri (we draw)
  2. Saya menang (I won)
  3. Saya kalah (I lost)

Each with their own hand gesture:

  1. Hands crossing left to right horizontally palms facing downwards
  2. Hands up in the air, fingers splayed
  3. Hands down wards, palms facing opponent.

The game is played in partners and together players say dam, dam together while clapping and then together say sut and on sut, players choose to either do:

gajah (elephant),

orang (person) or

semut (ant).

When first introducing the game, Pak Irianato recommends just focusing on;

  1. Gajah beats orang (elephant steps on person)
  2. Orang beats semut (person steps on ant)
  3. Semut beats elephant (ant gets into elephants ear and irritates the elephant – ant is small yet powerful)

Pak Irianto asked us to play 3 times with a partner and then swap partners choosing someone new. When he judged that we had mastered that, he asked the whole class to synconize our games; meaning that the entire class clapped & said dam, dam, sut at exactly the same time, starting very slowly and encouraging everyone to keep the rhythm.

Once this is mastered, I would introduce the above target structures yet Pak Irianto encouraged us all to use it right from the beginning. One participant suggested the following rhyme sung to Frere Jacques to consolidate vocabulary:

Saya menang

Saya menang

Saya kalah

Saya kalah

Kita seri

Kita seri

Marilah bermain!

Marilah bermain!

All up, it was a fun game and I loved the way that the game increases in complexity which makes it appealing to all ages of students.

The final activity he did with us was awesome and perfect for TPR. This song could be adapted to any verb. I love the idea of asking students for action suggestions!! I was thinking of how much fun ‘menangis’ (cry) or ‘jatuh’ (fall) would be. Pak Irianto first taught us the song and actions then suggested adding the jumping left, right & centre afterwards to add a further challenge.

I didn’t take any notes, just this video!!

Brainbreaks

My most popular brainbreak video last semester was senam penguin which I mainly showed to junior primary students, but it turns out the older students enjoyed it too one day when I was absent!

 

However it is now time to give senam penguin a break so I started looking for a new senam brainbreak video and I think I’ve found it! This will be be perfect for all students especially those who have been enjoying Pokemon G!  What do you think?

 

Don’t forget you can purify these videos to remove any advertising!!