{December 29, 2008}   Multiple Intelligences

Many schools have been adopting the idea of multiple intelligences into their daily teaching practices. For English teachers, this is piece of cake, since we always act, draw, write, and do whatever necessary for students to grasp the meaning of words and phrases.
After moving here, I had some (I must say, successful) interviews, and what surprised me most was that one of this schools had a project on multiple intelligences. After some googling, here is what I could research on the topic:



M.I. 2

M.I. Site

M.I. 3

M.I. – A theory for Everyone

M.I. Assessment

M.I. Assessment 2

Howard Gardner’s Site

M.I. Theory

Technology and M.I.

M.I. 4

M.I. in the Classroom

The Theory of M.I

M.I. 5

Lesson Plan’s Library

M.I. 6

Literacy Works

Learning Theories

Human Intelligencemultiple_intelligences_diagram


{December 29, 2008}  

I promise I’ll update soon. Being on holidays, moving, and celebrating Xmas (and New Year) among boxes full of books -which I should have unpacked as soon as I moved- leaves me a bit lazy 😛

See you Next Year!

{December 16, 2008}   Christmas with your students

Do you celebrate Christmas in your classroom? As here in Argentina classes finished last week, I used half an hour of my last class with my little students to write a letter to Santa. I printed some beautiful stationary with a template of a letter for children to fill in.
I got the idea from here, and I’m sure you can easily adapt it to your students’ needs.


Note: Where it says “I always…” students are supposed to tell Santa about their behaviour during the year, and the things they like doing. You can help them by writing words like these on the blackboard:

– share

– fight

– tidy

– study

and many others.

When looking for ideas to design this activity, I also came across these sites, that you may find useful: /

{December 16, 2008}   What’s happening to our language?

After reading this, I was stuck with the thought I’m old.

Why is it that new generations break language conventions to create their own language?

It’s normal to see language change but not in such enormous ways! Every single language is getting akwardly abbreviated to avoid doing the effort of writing extra letters.  There are abreviations adapted from other languages. Numbers replace letters. Acronyms are overused.

What is happening today is a big thread to communication. Why? Languages are being  modified by children and teens in such ways that older people can’t really interact with them, unless they are kind of taught “the new language.”

And this reminds me of an old language joke I received by mail some years ago. The saddest part is that this is coming true.

Changes to the English Language

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty’s Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5-year phase-in plan that would be known as “Euro-English”.

In the first year, ‘s’ will replace the soft ‘c’. Sertainly,this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard ‘c’ will be dropped in favor of the ‘k’. This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome ‘ph’ will be replased with the ‘f’. This will make words like ‘fotograf’ 20% shorter!

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expected to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double leters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent ‘e’ in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing ‘th’ with ‘z’ and ‘w’ wiz ‘v’. During ze fifz year ze unesesary ‘o’ kan be dropd from vords kontaining ‘ou’ and similar changes vud of kurs be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After ze fifz yer ve vil hav a rali sensibl ritn styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evriun vil find it ezi tu undrstand ech ozer.

Zen Z Drem Vil Finali Kum Tru!

{December 15, 2008}   Why…

…do adult students always ask us to slow down our reading?
Some days ago, I was doing a listening comprehension exercise, and one of the students wanted me to read each sentence at turtle pace, pausing after every single word so he could get every single word I said.
This is the same student who asked me if we could say “would they like…” after reading “would you like some tea?”

My theory, hope it’s wrong, is that this student has never heard about the word comprehension. Neither has he heard about context or background knowledge.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing him. I just want to see if the problem is that I can’t teach him, or that he doesn’t understand my explanations. It’s the only student with this problem.

The listening exercise I was mentioning, consisted just in saying if 5 sentences were true or false. The text was pretty complex for their level, but with our pre-listening talk about James Bond, and a bit of vocabulary work, most of the students performed excellently.
They had 5 general statements about the short excerpt I was going to read, They had to listen not for details but for a complete understanding of events, and then, try to guess which of the statements were false.

When I saw this student’s answers, I really was not surprised he didn’t get any of them. He is so worried about getting every single word and its meaning (yes, my dear fellows, he interrupts listening activities to ask the meaning of every word he doesn’t know) that he is not able to understand the whole both in reading and listening activities.

Consider this example:

(Teacher reads)

… Roy shared his flat with his brother, who was also a student. He usually cooked on Sundays, but …

Sentence in student’s worksheet:

Roy shared his flat with his brother and two of his friends.

Guess his answer – if you say True, you may understand how I’m feeling.

{December 10, 2008}   Online Readings for all of us

Spineless books provides lots of texts to have fun and learn at the same time.  One story from that site that really caught my attention was Gadsby. It is a really long story, written without using the letter E (what is called a lipogram) I would highly recommend it to those students who want to improve their writing and their vocabulary.

{December 10, 2008}   Professionalism, Part II

Basing on Ms María Lidia Camporro’s article, I created a tree showing the main characteristics professional teachers should have.


{December 10, 2008}   Professionalism

After reading the article by Ms María Lidia Camporro, “A Toast on Professionalism” in The Teacher’s Magazine #109, many questions came to my mind.

Why do 18 year olds choose the teaching profession? Is it because it’s the easiest choice or is it because they really want to make a change in the lives of younger generations to come?

Why is it that in such courses of studies as English Teaching there are so many registered students and so many drop outs?

As it was said in the previously mentioned article, this last years were witnesses of a draw back in registration for the teaching courses everywhere.

In my opinion, and due to certain recent events I’ll mention later here, I think that perhaps this draw back in registration may lead to best quality teaching.  Those who are working as teachers nowadays know what I’m talking about: extra time for PTA meetings, extra work for holidays and national days, presents for child’s day, quality activities, and the most important of all: commitment to your work. Quoting Ms Camporro, “it is always easier to see, analyse and judge others than to actually go over one’s own decisions, revise them and spot where they went wrong.” The problem appears when teachers are fulfilling roles they are not expected to, and when those who are in the teaching profession are not professional enough.

Why am I talking about this?

Some months ago, I was assigned some extra work for the end of year party at school. Three teachers, including me, were supposed to prepare a video with pictures of those students who were graduating from 9th grade. (Here in Argentina 9th grade signals the end of the primary level of education)

As I knew from the very beginning of the year I’d had to prepare this video, I started collecting and scanning pictures from this students…

Teacher number two told me he was preparing a video as a gift FROM HIM for this students…

And teacher number three never got to know he had to work with us… (or did he?)

The problem started in June, when the former head master told teacher number two he would like HIM to make the video for the prom, and not me… so I told him “Ok, I’ll give him the pictures for the prom’s video”

This extra work was due last Friday.

I came to school earlier and one of the secretaries told me “what happened with the video? I heard somewhere teacher number two didn’t make it” (or something like that, I was so mad I can’t remember the exact words). And here comes the most important detail: I’m an obsessively responsible teacher. If you ask me on Monday to do something for Friday you’ll have it on Tuesday. I don’t like to make people lose time. Neither do I like to lose my time.

So, after talking to the head mistress, we agreed on the irresponsibility from the other part and she asked me to prepare a video like the one I made last year. I agreed and went to my classroom.

When I handed it in today (after a long weekend away from home, preparing a video which had to be ready WEEKS before…) someone went with the news to teacher number two. He said he couldn’t believe how I made the video when he was going to give it in blablablah… To what I said “Hey, you were supposed to hand in a 10 minutes video or powerpoint presentation LAST WEEK and you did nothing but make me do MORE extra work because of that…” And when I turned back to the head mistress office, he asked “what did you do? A powerpoint presentation?”

“Not exactly… I made a whole DVD”


Thanks to those who read this. School year is finishing this week (next one is final exam’s week) and I’m going madder every time something goes wrong for the end-of-year event.

{December 10, 2008}   Thinking Aloud

I’m an active participant in an ESL forum. Last weekend, there were some arguments which I’m glad I didn’t see then.

What is an ESL resource?

Is it just clipart or a frame to embelish your activities? NO. That’s just something you may add to motivate your students with prettier worksheets.

An ESL resource is something your students will use to improve their language, whether it has clipart or not.

And it’s just that simple.  If those who read this post know where this discussion took place, they may understand me. But when you plan your activities carefully, you design your worksheets taking every single detail into account, and someone comes and claims that a single frame made out of small clipart is something you may use to work with your students… you can go really mad. And here came another complaint. Some said that the most active teachers were acting like know-it-alls… Here I must say that if you have experience, you can talk and do and criticize… New people in this profession (let’s say those who have been teaching for less than 3 years) can learn LOTS of more experienced teachers and professors. But well, as in every instance of our lives, there are stubborn people everywhere!

And here is when I say: do this teachers behave like that at school to? I mean, do they complain about everything?

When applying to a teacher job, administrators take into account every single characteristic an applying teacher has. Not only her resumee and experience are important, but also her personal traits make a point in the application.

We, as teachers, should be aware of how principals look at us to improve our teaching practices for our own good and for our students, too.

Broadly speaking, we can list some attributes a great educator should have (but are not limited to):

* Ability to work patiently with children in the age range they are interested in.
* Ability to be VERY flexible.
* Ability to adhere to state and federal standards.
* Ability to be a diagnostician for reading/math/learning/social deficiencies and to implement a plan of action to correct those deficiencies.
* Ability to be creative in the implementation of a daily schedule.
* Ability to talk with parents, not to them.
* Ability to go the extra mile and do more than you need to do.
* Ability to leave everything at the door, and do your job as an educator when you walk into the building each day.  That said, leave work at work and be you when you walk out the door.
* Ability to follow your leader.
* Ability to communicate effectively with others (students, teachers, administration, parents).

To this short list, we can add some of what Robert E. Glenn – in his article, Admirable Teaching Traits – identifies as characteristics that principals look for in the new teachers they hire:

*Ability to build success into the class
*Ability to create a pleasant atmosphere
*Ability to differentiate instruction
*Ability to establish successful classroom management
*High expectations
*Content knowledge
*Ability to pace instruction.
*Ability to ask effective questions.
*Good attitude
*Ability to teach actively

Personally, I would add another characteristic that EVERYONE should take into account, and that is the ability to deal with discipline. Once that dicipline goes hand in hand with organization, the rest is piece of cake.

et cetera