Thursday, September 26, 2013

Do you know your ABC's?

God definitely me in a spot to get me out of my comfort zone here in Korea by teaching at a blind school.  I have 8 different classes.  For the elementary level, I have 4 classes, and I only see them once a week.  For the middle and high school level, I have 4 classes, and I see them 2-3 times a week.  The majority of the students I work with at the Pre-K and Kindergarten level, and I only work with 1 or 2 students at a time.  They are learning their ABC's, reviewing their ABC's and learning the sounds, or learning phonics and basic sight words.  I have never taught Kindergarten.  I taught at a KinderCare when I was in graduate school, but that was years ago.  Most of my teaching has been centered around 4th, 5th, and 6th grade.  I love teaching at the intermediate level.

So when I found that I was teaching at a blind school and most of my students are at a lower level, I knew I would be out of my comfort zone.  I was fine with that as long as I could find a way to bring something new to the students and do the best job that I could.  When I first got here, my co-teacher handed me a piece of paper with the alphabet on it and told me to use that.  After 2 minutes of that, I was bored.  If I was bored, I could imagine that the students were bored as well.  So I started researching on Google different ways to teach the ABC's.  By the way...what did we ever do without Google?  LOVE Google!

I found some cool ABC songs on YouTube...several I have already shared with you.  I found this new one yesterday, and my students really like.  It's basically the same ABC song that you and I grew up singing, but it has a beat and bold colors, which my visually impaired students really like.

Then we watched our favorite ABC song, which I have shared before.  I really like it for my students because it has rhythm, shows the letter, says the sound, and says a word for that letter.

We have played this one so many times that they are starting to sing along, which makes me happy.  That means they are starting to know and understand not only the letters, but also the sounds and the words for each letter.

Then we watched a new ABC video that I found on the Sesame Street channel on YouTube.  Have you checked out that channel?  It's great for little kids!

Here's the video:

After watching the videos, we played this game.  I found this game, Fiddle Sticks, on Pinterest last year when I taught 5th grade math.  I used it for practicing those dreaded multiplication facts, and my students always begged me to play it.  Here is the original link:

I thought I would use the same concept to practice the letters of the alphabet with my students here in Korea.  I went looking at our local dollar store, Daiso, but I couldn't find any popsicle sticks.  The closest thing I could find were clear plastic spoons.  So I bought several packages at about 1,000 won (or $1) each.  I used my Sharpie that I had brought from home to write a letter of the alphabet on each spoon.  Then I drew a star on two spoons.  In the original game, Fiddle Sticks, you draw a red dot on two sticks.  I didn't have a red marker, so I just drew a star.  I put all the spoons into a little waste bucket I also found at Daiso.  I introduced the game to two of my middle school boys yesterday.  One of these boys is always tired in my class and puts his head down or just closes his eyes while sitting in his chair.  It's been a challenge to motivate him.  Well, this game did it!  I was ecstatic.  I will mention that I also "bribed" them with Fruit Loops, which I'm sure helped. Let me tell you how we played it...

You put all the spoons in the bucket, with the handles up and the letters down.  Student #1 picks a spoon.  If he says the correct letter, he gets one Fruit Loop (yes, just one).  If he also says the word for that letter, he gets another Fruit Loop. For example: B, and B is for ball.  They loved getting the Fruit Loops.  I was amazed that it worked better than candy or stickers.  Then Student #2 picks a spoon and does the same thing.  If the student picks a spoon and does not know the letter, then he puts the spoon back.  If the students picks a spoon with the star, then he has to put back all of his spoons.  You should have heard the groans and the "oh no"'s when they picked the star.  It was cracking me up.  And the boy who always just wants to sleep?  Well he was wide awake during this game!  And he knew all of his letters and most of the words that went with each letter.  I was shocked and amazed and giddy!  I am definitely going to have to buy more Fruit Loops at Home Plus, but I'm totally OK with that.  And if you're wondering, yes, the Fruit Loops taste different here in Korea, and they are actually called Fruit Rings.  They are just not the same as in America.  :(

Here is my little bucket...

And my spoons...
The ABC spoons
I am still a little surprised that my game worked so well.  I actually used the game again today with 2 middle school boys from another class, and they liked it just as much as the first 2 boys.  Woo-hoo!  Now, I'm on the lookout for more simple games like this to use in the classroom.

I haven't yet figured out a name for my game.  I would love to call it Fiddle Sticks, but there aren't any sticks involved.  Maybe Fiddle Spoons.  What do you think?

My next goal is to use the same game but with basic sight words instead of letters of the alphabet.  I'm going on a search this weekend to a big stationery store here in Daejeon, hoping to find some popsicle/craft sticks.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Karaoke in the classroom?

What?  Karaoke in the classroom?  You might be saying, "I don't have a karaoke machine."  Just wait, my friends, just wait.

I have been trying to find different ways to teach English to my visually impaired students.  It needs to have music or rhythm to keep them entertained...and for me not to fall asleep in the boring textbook lessons.

Look what I found on YouTube today?! A whole channel on karaoke songs!  I'm so excited I just can't hide it!  There are songs from Lady Gaga to Neil Diamond to Kenny Rogers to The Beatles.

I cannot contain my excitement, and I just had to share it with you.  You all know that I will find any excuse to sing in the classroom.  Here is a great reason!

Here is the channel:

And here are a couple of my favorites:

I'm sure you could even use it to build up your students' reading speeds.  How else can you think of using karaoke in the classroom?

Happy singing!

Say Something!

I am working on getting more products into my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  In the beginning, it takes a while to figure out your groove.  I'm hoping and praying it gets easier!

Here are 3 products that I just uploaded.  They are all "Say Something" sentence stems.  I used these every day in my classroom, in every subject.  After modeling for my students, they became pros at it.

I created 3 different sets: one for classroom use where you hang them up, one for students' individual use, and one specifically for math.

Say Something (reading, science, social studies) - individual student cards

Say Something (reading, science, social studies) - classroom cards for hanging up in the classroom

Say Something (math) - classroom cards for hanging up in the classroom

I would love to hear how you use "Say Something" in your classroom!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Great interactive website

Check out what my friend just shared with me!  It's a great website that has activities from Kinder through 5th grade.  I can't wait to try some of these in my classroom next week after Chuseok!  Chuseok is the Korean Thanksgiving, and it is THE biggest holiday in Korea.  Bigger than Christmas.  I actually have the whole week off this week.  And yes, I am enjoying every minute of it!

Teaching in Korea is very different than teaching in America.  For one thing, I've gotten not one bouquet of flowers, but two bouquets....the second one being three times as big as this one.  The only time I received flowers from my school in America was when I had surgery.  It sure is nice to feel appreciated!

I saw this on another blog and wanted to try it, so here goes...

I am: on vacation, in my apartment, relaxing
I feel: blessed
I hear: Andrew Peterson on my iPod
I love: new experiences

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Where have I been?

The big question is...."Where have I been?"  Why haven't I posted in several months?

Well, I have a good reason.  A really good reason.  I resigned from my teaching job in Texas to follow a dream I've had for the past 10 years.  I am teaching English in Daejeon, Korea.  I have wanted to teach overseas for a long time, and I just decided to do it.  I am absolutely loving it, and I don't regret it at all.

I actually started another blog that details my whole experience, and I share my pictures, stories, and experiences on it. I'd love for you to check it out! 

I am teaching at Daejeon Public School for the Blind.  I have taught for 15 years, but I have never taught blind students.  This is a new experience for me.  My students are either completely blind or have low vision.  Most of my students have intellectual disabilities as well, so I am learning to embrace Pre-K and Kinder activities, songs, books, and chants.

I hope to create some fun activities for them in the classroom.  We've been singing a lot of songs, which they love.  I bought some musical instruments from the store here in Daejeon, and it is so much fun to watch them.  I also bought some magnetic letters and a magnetic board to practice learning the alphabet and beginning phonics.  I have never taught kindergarten, so this is totally new to me.  I have worked in day care for years and Backyard Bible Clubs and Vacation Bible School, so at least I have worked with younger kiddos.  I have been searching and searching the internet for songs, videos, picture books, poems, chants, rhymes....basically anything that can help me.

Here are some great videos that I found to practice the alphabet and the alphabet sounds.  I have the students move their chairs right up to the screen so they can see the letters and hear the sounds.

On this first video, we play it through once so we can listen and sing.  Then I play it again, stopping at each letter and have the students find the magnetic letter that it goes to and repeat the chant for that letter.  They are getting really good at the letters and the sounds.  Sometimes, students in Korea have difficulty sounding out certain letters, and this video is helping.

Since I'm in Korea, I do not have "home court advantage".  I can't run right out to Wal-Mart and pick up supplies.  I can't go to Half Price Books to build up my classroom library and buy books.  So you know what I did?  I went on YouTube and found picture books being read aloud.  I never knew they did this!  Did you?  Well, when I found it, it just made my day.  I now have playlists on my YouTube channel: picture books, Dr Seuss, phonics, nursery rhymes, ABCs, music videos, etc.  I am a happy girl in Korea!

Here are a couple of my favorites so far.  I just discovered this a couple of days ago, so I haven't had a chance to show all the books:

Here are a couple of awesome phonics videos that I found for sight words.  I will be adding these in to my plans this next week.  What's awesome is that this particular YouTube channel has tons of videos for sight words.  Score!

Last but not least are my nursery rhymes.  I have two girls in my high school class that I just adore.  They both have low vision and intellectual disabilities, but they are always happy to come to class and see me.  They often walk in and immediately ask if we can sing and dance.  My co-teacher had originally planned for me to work with them only one day a week, but the girls loved my singing so much that I now get the privilege of working with them three days a week.  I quickly discovered that they already knew several songs, so I used that and then expanded on it.  They LOVE to do the motions to any song and use the musical instruments.  I found this channel on YouTube where the colors are vivid, and the characters are super cute.  The channel is called Little Baby Bum.
Here are our favorite nursery rhymes:

And their absolute favorite....which gets the "Saturday Night Fever" moves from one of the girls...

I am learning so much teaching and living in Korea.  If you have ever thought about it, do it!  If you have any questions about teaching in Korea, I'd be more than happy to answer them!