Part 1 - Creating a Word Wall for Horror Writing
We have a small EAL group within the Y7 group. While they did the first lesson with the mainstream class, in a subsequent class I did a separate lesson for them whereby they generated vocabulary that was related to horror writing. First they worked in pairs, then shared the words they came up with. The purpose of this was twofold:
1) that they would build their confidence by seeing their collective contributions to the word wall
2) that they would have a useful set of vocabulary to use to write their horror story
Here is their final product:
The EAL teacher and I emphasised the need for good adjectives to describe places, people and actions. Based on this we gave them a bit more time to focus on adjectives and they were added into the word wall.
I also showed them the word walls from the other two Y7s mainstream classes, as well as a handout from the BBC on Horror Writing.
Part 2: Creating a Horror Story Through Pictures
Then I had them divide a page in their notebooks into 4 sections:
- person (character)
- place (setting)
- action (plot)
- ending (resolution)
Because they were EAL students, I did not want them to be limited by their English or concerned with writing, spelling or grammar errors. For this reason, I asked them to draw these parts of their story, and only use words if they wanted to. I played some scary music while they were writing and encouraged them to be as creative and detailed as they wanted to be. After some guidance, clarifications of instructions and getting them to settle down, students were more engage than I expected so I let them finish during class time and homework.
Originally I had planned to give them some time at the end of class to present, but as they were so engaged, we decided to let them present their story verbally to the class with a time limit of 3 minutes each in the next class.
Before presenting in the next class, students had a time to integrate words from the word wall to their images. They also rehearsed how they would present their stories to the class. They were all quite animated and presented their stories with much enthusiasm and confidence.
It's that time again - Parent Teacher Student Conferences on Oct 30 and 31!
This also means that there will be a 2 day Extended Essay (EE) Workshop for Y12s and Y13s.
Each year group will have a different area of focus. The Y13s are finishing their final drafts and should have the last feedback from their supervisors. Their EEs should be 90% done and students should be reflecting back on their first experiences of doing independent research.
I have had parents tell me that their child should invest very little time on the EE in comparison to other IBDP subjects. After all, it is only worth 1.5 points, right? The EE, together with the ToK essay and presentation, another 1.5 points, can add another 3 points to the 42, making it total of 45 possible points.
I have told parents that I must, respectfully, disagree with them. Firstly, the independent scholarly research and writing skills that are used in the EE, will be repeatedly used in university, up the doctoral level. Secondly, it's better for students to make their mistakes with me now and their EE supervisors, rather than with the external moderators who will give the final grade. As EE supervisors, we can only give a predicated grade.
Inversely, the Y12s are just starting their EEs, so we want them to have a solid foundation before starting any writing or research. With this purpose in mind, I aim to:
1) Facilitate inquiry into a subject that they are genuinely interested in. They need to sustain that interest for 4000 words of independent writing. They should NOT be developing their research question or thesis statement at this early stage.
2) Know the EE assessment criteria from the IBO. I will break the Y12s students into groups based on their EE subjects (eg. Physics, Economics) and they will create posters based on their subject-specific criteria from the IBO EE Criteria and share them with the class. They will also explain to the whole class, 5 do's and don'ts of the EE, in addition to summarising the assessment criteria.
3) Meet their EE supervisors for the first time and be clear on the roles and expectations of both the EE students and their supervisor, according to the IBO EE Criteria.
4) Review online scholarly sources at our school and at the National Library Board (NLB). NLB has over 101 databases, many of which can be used 24/7 online remotely. I will use the video below from NLB and show it to our students. Our school has a school membership so all students have access to this online resource.
5) We will also review citation and in-text referencing according to MLA 8 with Y12s. MLA is the school standard for citing sources and is approved by the IBO as an accepted form of citation for student submitted work. The orange abridged version of the MLA 8 will be shared with all Y12s via Managebac, and we have 2 print copies of the MLA 8, unabridged, to borrow from the library.
I will also recommend all Y12s to read or skim the book, Three, by Alexander Louev. Although the assessment criteria has changed for the EE in 2016, the principles of scoring high are the same. It's a short, practical, entertaining and straightforward read about how to do the EE right.
Louev is not an IB teacher and he does not work for the IBO. But as an IBDP student he scored a perfect 3 on both ToK and EE . He scored a total of 43 out of 45 points in the IB Diploma. He later went on to study economics and business at Oxford University. He now runs his own tutoring business, and has successfully tutored over 400 students in economics and mathematics. His business is so successful that he no longer takes on any new students. Here is his website.
You can read my review of Louev's book, Three, on Goodreads.
Watch this space to see what our Y12s produce and share to show from the 2 day EE workshop!
As the first quarter of school comes to a close, the Y2s are finishing off landforms, and able to connect them to climate and lives.
For this final week, I chose the book, Rain School by James Rumford. The story takes place in Chad where students have to first build their school before they can begin their lessons. The dichotomy of a dry, hot climate in the plains of Central Africa with the torrential rains of the wet season prove to be a challenge, but the children use the few materials that nature provides them - grass, saplings and mud - to construct a school. However, due to the extreme weathers, the school only lasts one school year.
After we read the story, I ask students the following:
Here are the answers of two classes. In some cases, they discussed first with each other, then shared as a group, and others we discussed as a class. Although I did guide students with prompts and stem phrases, the thoughts here are very much their own.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is one of my favourite books for so many reasons. One could do an extensive lesson on this linking the character of Liam to many of the the IB Learner Profiles and Attitudes. This story also appeals to me with its themes of sustainability, and environmental design in urban living. Here is a charming and entertaining video retelling of the story.
Since the Y1s current unit of inquiry is sharing the planets with a focus on how plants and humans live together, the plot of how a Liam embarks on breathing life, literally plant life, into an abandoned rail system could not be more appropriate.
After reading the story to them, I asked Y1s the following:
Why is the story called the Curious Garden?
What does the garden do to show its curiosity?
What IB Learner Attitudes and Profiles does Liam model for us and how?
Do you think this is a true story?
Many students did not think it was a true story and when I asked why, it was mostly because of the picture book format. I told students that Liam is a fictional character, the Curious Garden was inspired by the true story of the High Line in New York, an abandoned railway that has been turned into a popular pedestrian green corridor. I showed them a video from Time.com.
Although the vocabulary and pace of speech is too advanced for the Y1s, they were fascinated by the drone shots that turned a picture book turned into reality. I paused a few times during the videos to ask them questions to check on their understanding. They definitely understood the main ideas.
After this video, I asked the students if they thought the same thing existed in Singapore. Virtually all students, said no. However I told them, we have our own High Line in Singapore and it is called the Green Corridor. It is a former rail corridor for a train that ran from the central business district of Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. It ceased operation in 2012 and was 24 km long within Singapore.
Most of the rail tracks are gone, and it mostly a walking trail from north to south Singapore, with further development plans in the future.
I then showed them a drone video that capture arial views of this route that also labelled areas of Singapore. The Y1s had fun identifying which parts they lived at or had been to.
I also shared with students some of my personal photos I took when I walked the entire length from north to south in April 2016.
Video by Elaine Fong
From the Curious Garden and the videos I showed them, they could make connections to how plants, humans and abandoned structures can live together sustainable, even their own lives in Singapore, and as the Y1 unit says, share the planet.
Y5s are in the middle of studying different body systems and each student has been assigned an organ as focus of study. This was a good opportunity to introduce and review Britannica School (ebonline):
In the first Y5 class, I shared a Google doc where they could cut and paste their answers in a table, but I found students spent too much time fiddling with the document when inputting the answers. So for the second Y5 class, I had them log into ebonline to read about their assigned organ. After a few minutes to check their recall and understanding, I had them close their computer and tell me one fact they learned about it. This worked much better, especially in the very limited time I had with them for library class (30 minutes maximum). Students also had to learn to scan for new information within a short time, about 5 minutes. Here are the results.
The first unit of inquiry for the Y4s is Who We Are with the central idea being that by exploring different cultures, students can develop an appreciation of diversity. Specifically, they will be examining:
To make the books for this unit more meaningful and individualised, students picked out a book from a library that they connected to this UOI. Students then had their photo taken with the book and they had to briefly state why they chose the book to represent the theme of diversity. All the Y4s with their books and their respective explanations were collected on a virtual wall display via Padlet, that as seen on the each Y4 Class websites.
The Y2s are 2 weeks into their current unit of inquiry on landforms. They've moved from identifying and defining landforms to now understanding how these affect our daily lives.
To make this connection I used a book from a Y3 unit of inquiry on structure, "If you lived here: houses of the world" by Giles Laroche.
I photocopied an illustration of a home from a specific part of the world. Then I read the short text related to this picture to the class describing the home and its environment. Students then had 3 minutes to discuss with a partner how the landform affected how the home was built.
Video by Elaine Fong
Working in pairs students were able to make connection with the landforms and how it affected the way people lived, ate, transported themselves and goods, as well as the materials and designs of their home. I did read them the short description of each home before to check for listening and understanding. Since many students developed their answer beyond the short text I which I had read and paraphrased the information, they had a better understanding which was reflected on their answers.
I've carried out this this lesson where students answer individually, but the responses were repetitive and similar. When working in pairs, students came up with much more original answers and unique perspectives, but some pairs did collaborate more successfully than others.
The Y9s have just finished reading Animal Farm. To help them understand the power of words and propaganda, we had a short lesson on how to write effective slogans.
To get them settled as they entered the classroom , we did a quiz from page 51 of Made You Look: How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know.
I also showed some famous slogans so that students could see the common elements that made them powerful, effective and memorable.
Based on these examples, students worked in groups and came up with the following conclusions about how to make effective slogans.
Last week students were given a handout on different strategies to form commandments to support their slogans from the Institute of Propaganda Analysis in 1937. Students had to employ 4 different strategies to support their own slogan, much like the characters in Animal Farm. But first I gave them an example of my own slogan of how to end world hunger, that was actually inspired by the this book. By using the Frayer model, they had to guess which commandment strategies I had used in each quadrant.
Students guessed the correct commandment strategies I employed and also justified how other strategies could have been used from their perspectives. Here's the other teacher's example using Animal Farm.
Students then embarked on creating their own slogans and supporting commandments, also using a Frayer model.
As teachers, we want students to be active learners.
As one of my passions is cooking, for fun and healthy eating, I want students to be active in their own diet and nutrition, to know what balanced eating is, and to enjoy making, as well as eating their own food. It is my goal that through my CCA that they become confident in experimenting, improvising and budgeting with food.
A group of Year 12 students are running the CCA for their CAS (Creative Action Service) hours. This involves leading the session for the younger students, who are mostly Year 7 boys. In the first session, the Y12s created an essential agreement in the first session, came up with a schedule of what the menu would be for the first semester of the CCA, and took attendance, managed a budget and shopping list of ingredients for each session. Since some students could not eat meat due to religious/healthy reasons or because they were vegetarians, as a group to only include vegetarian dishes in the meal plan.
In our second session, students made their own food - tacos!
I had recently finished reading Alec Baldwin's Nevertheless and genuinely enjoyed it. I was surprised at how funny, generous and humble he was, and strongly suspected a ghost writer. However after watching several interviews where he promoted his book, it was obvious that the narrative voice was his own, that in fact, the book did not do justice as to how intelligent, humorous and articulate Baldwin is in person. Chapter 9 specifically dealt with how Baldwin was mentally and physically challenged by the role of Stanley Kowalski, how he felt the spectre of Marlon Brandon looming over him. Streetcar aside, it was a low point for the actor, both professionally in movies, and personally, with his first marriage falling apart and leaving his long time manager and friend. For Baldwin, Streetcar was his Mount Everest to conquer, his challenge that could redeem him professionally and personally if he could rise above the spectre of Brando's Stanley.
I knew the Y12s were studying Streetcar as they had borrowed it as a class only weeks before so mentioned how much I enjoyed Nevertheless. I mentioned theTheatre teacher how Chapter 9 might be relevant for their study of Streetcar. After she gave me the task sheet, I could see it as an example of a primary source for their task. For their summative task for this course, the Y12 had to research and integrate primary and secondary sources into their work. Specifically they were required to research and explain the theoretical and/or cultural context(s) from which the play originates. Students had to explain the ideas addressed by the play text and explain how these are presented by the playwright.
I had already borrowed the book from the library, but then I also downloaded the audiobook from the library via Overdrive. I made copies of selected texts from Nevertheless for the students to highlight, annotate and make notes as we listened to Baldwin read the the text. But before we read the text together (with Baldwin), I asked them to look for the following:
The student and the teacher expressed that this was a useful primary source and definitely would integrate into the task where possible.
Video by Elaine Fong