Tuesday, October 24, 2017

20 Reasons to teach Poetry, at all ages

In the English language there is a difference between the word "song" to the word "poem", which does not necessarily exists in other languages, such as Hebrew for example. In elementary school, we give a lot of room to rhymes and recitations at the lower grades, and later on, we discuss poems or songs while discussing a certain holiday/season/poet. Later on in junior high and high school, we analyze specific literary works.

Personally, I teach a big variety of songs and poems throughout the school year, for various reasons:

1. Exposure to the material and expending the vocabulary
2. Exposure to different views and ideas
3. The connection between a poet/writer to their works
4. Word games
5. Developing the Imagination
6. Explaining and teaching grammar rules that apply only in poems and not in the daily language, Linguistic manipulation that exist only in poetry
7. Development of listening skills
8. Developing the ability for personal commentary
9. Discussing emotions
10. Developing a discussion
11. Discussing the connection between lyrics and music
12. Using art as a tool for expressing criticism - personal/expressional
13. Developing curiosity
14. Learning about a Historical period, general knowledge etc.
15. Creating logical connection to relevant issues – the cycle of a year, famous figures, personal events etc.
16. Developing a reflective, emotional and logical thinking
17. Enabling the children to express their inner-world in the class
18. Reading comprehension
19. Developing the skills for poem writing
20. Exposure to music tones, structures and mobility

I guess there are many more reasons to teach poetry and songs, and I want to present to you my way and to offer you a way to develop your own version. In my class the main goal of my teaching is to expose the children to a wide variety of songs and poems from different periods, different cultures and styles. The process is by reading-observations-understanding-discussing the poem/song. I sometimes add playing a related music from the same period/creator/subject/emotion before learning and discussing the relevant material.

I find the way in which the children draw the dots between the two works as very interesting, and I make it a point not to lead the discussion in the class, but to allow them to lead it on their own to the directions that seem relevant and important to them. I do sometimes try to add guiding questions or a summary of what was already said.

The sooner we will start to expose children to various poetry thus their abilities to discuss broader and deeper issues will grow.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Using Movies for Learning

Children and people enjoy watching a movie or a series because it feels like entering a different visual world, which is understandable. All in all, movies/series enable us to identify with a character, identifying with values, with acts/actions, and also the reverse emotional range – disliking a character or it's values.
In addition, we all know that children watch a lot of series and movies on a daily basis – did you ever wonder what do they take from them? Do they detect the nonsense? The sarcasm? The subtext or the emotional depths?
We can teach the children to observe and deepen their understanding while using the movie as a platform for opening many issues, exercise and exposure.

Built and structured content
Help as a supportive to knowledge
Producing emotions
The ability to form associations

Using series/ documentary series and fiction movies - using guided viewing:
Language tasks – character description, information miming
Learning about an historical period
Religion – learning about different religious, discussion about religious issues
Emotional and social analysis- discussing a character layers, social situations, conflicts (personal and inter-personal), puberty, break-ups etc.
Nature and the environment
Law, ethics and morals etc.

An example – watching the movie "Clash of the Titans" – 6th to 12th grade
1. Getting to know figures from the Greek Mythology (History and Mythology)
2. Improving viewing understanding and data mining (Language and viewing skills)
3. Writing a phrase about a beloved character (language)
4. A discussion about conflicts (emotional)

Viewing task:
1. Trace all the mythological/ruling/philosophical characters in the movie
2. Line down all the conflicts in the movie – personal and inter-personal
3. List all the myths described in the movie.
4. Sum-up the information about a beloved character.

I'll be happy to answer any question, and will love hearing from you, Sharon

All right reserve to Sharon Michaeli- Ramon ©

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

How to develop creativity

Isn't it one of the most common words that people are using regarding education and business development? we really want to develop it since childhood, but research shows that it decreases from the point we are finishing pre school.

some will say that we need to create an environment that enable it, but it's too difficult to create it at home, school, afternoon classes etc. all together.
we can develop creativity in different ways, and I want to introduce you to some effective tasks and games we are doing on a daily basis in my class, and also in the teams I'm working with (when we are dealing with challenges and new designs).

You can use all those elements with any group/ class, define the difficulty levels, and most important- they are easy to use, and can take between 7 minutes to an hour.

1. Riddles, logic quizzes, logic missions, challenge tasks:
The element needed is thinking and creating multiple choices of solution while coping with the understanding that mistakes and trial and error are part of learning.
you can ask logic question from age 4- example- :why do we pound a nail on the wall?

I love giving an assignment that require an imagination and coping uncertainty, for example (from my 6th grade class)-
in groups of 4-
you are a group of archaeologists. the year is 1910 (no internet, no mega information libraries on line...)
you are working on ancient site in X
you have experience in the middle east/ South America/ Africa
Suddenly you see a written language you've never seen...
what will you do?

The group have 45 minutes for raising ideas and possibilities, then 45 minutes looking for answers on line, and then a class on the topic with me (you can read on the uncertainty model here)

2. Completion stories:
 when we teach language skills we teach how to write a story (structure); I use movies, inventing stories I tell, video clips, pictures and more to start an idea and let the children continue the idea, write it and develop a conversation on it.

3. Mazes, tracks and courses- building them for children and letting children build their own courses is an practical challenge. you can use every thing you can climb on, pass trough and underneath.
* you can use a rope or wool and create "spider net" in the room; ask the children to walk around the room while avoiding the net.

4. Object what?
give children / adults a practical object and ask them all the uses you can get from it- practical and imaginary.

5. Association games:
association games are amazing for improvement of response speed, creating contexts and increasing thinking speed.
you can play free association.
you can play association chain: every word lead to another that connected to it/ opposite/ parallel.
you can play association of a single term/ word/ concept:love/ food/ happiness etc.
you can play association regarding a question or a riddle that have up to 2 words answer.

I'm here for every question and every note, Sharon.

 All the posts and materials belongs to Sharon Michaeli- Ramon ©

The model of coping with uncertainty while solving problems, challenges and high volume tasks

I've decided to create a method of uncertainty in my class after I've noticed that children (and adults) are having all kind of barriers when they need to cope a challenge- difficult article, new question, new area, thinking missions, solving a problem and more.

I've decided to develop a model to help them cope, and I'm using it mainly in language classes (you can read on it here) and in a weekly lesson of solving a challenges, that is connected to the syllabus, but it's wider and demand different way of thinking (you can read about it here)

The model is build from 5 steps:

1. Excepting the fact that I (the student) will not understand some of the reading material (or task)-         and it's ok.
2.  brain storming all the ideas related to the question/ task.
     Read & summarize as we learned- high light difficult words/ expression, high light main sentence      in a paragraph and summarize each paragraph/ idea.
3. Trying in a group to build a logic flow of the article/ story/ task/ question- out of the box thinking, giving associations and answers (we work on the concept that assumptions in this stage can't be wrong).
3a. sometimes I give access after stage 3 to use technologies and the net.
4. creating data base of all the ideas, answers and information on the board/ app/ other and making sense and order.
5. Giving the holistic order, Giving the answer/s and all the information needed.
    Dialog on the subject.

All the posts and materials belongs to Sharon Michaeli- Ramon ©

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

5 reasons why coping with difficulties is important in the class - reading comprehension

In my class, sixth grade, I'm challenging my students every day. I've entered the public system four years ago, after managing different projects as an expert in creativity and being categorized as  a "problem solver". when I entered the school I'm working in today I've noticed that the children are dealing great with reading comprehension we have in the text book, but can't understand higher articles.

I've decided to use a method of uncertainty in the class, which build from 3 steps:

1. Excepting the fact that I (the student) will not understand some of the reading material (or task)-         and it's ok.
2. Read & summarize as we learned- high light difficult words/ expression, high light main sentence       in a paragraph and summarize each paragraph/ idea.
3. Trying in a group to build a logic flow of the article/ story/ other.

when the children started they were upset, confused and even angry. we worked step by step solving the articles I've brought to class (I can't share them with you, because they are in Hebrew; but the criterion to choose them are: suitable from 9th grade, have current affairs link to the students life and have a pedagogical context).

After a month I can say that I have 5 great reasons to continue with this method, once a week, a two hours lesson:

1. The level of expectations raised and the students understand the benefits and the wide range of      
    topics that are added to the class.
2. Higher use of reading strategies in all the language fields (history, geography, etc)
3. The level of the conversations changed and become broadly contexted to different areas, and I love
    connect areas of knowledge to subjects.
    Some students started to be herd in class.
4. While coping with higher language the understanding, the vocabulary and the expression and  
5. I'm revealing difficulties that I couldn't see in a class of 36 students before, for example- the  
    difficulty of explaining a term with no examples- and working on it.

I'm here for any question, Sharon.

                         All the posts and materials belongs to Sharon Michaeli- Ramon ©


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Four Activities for Starting a Relaxed Morning in the Class and Lowering Level of Stress and Pressure

Some classes need to go into a "silent learning zone", a kind of silence and tranquility that allows concentration, listening, work, collaboration and patience.
Schools are full of stress factors – social, educational, emotional baggage each child carries with him/her, thoughts, fears etc. The latest security issues are also not easy and add more stress to the kids, and even serve as a deflection on a daily basis.

The educational-organizational-personal discourses make a lot of use in tools such as Meditation, Mind-folds, Guided Imaginations and others in order to succeed in being "here and now" in our overloaded world, and kids very much enjoy playing or being concentrated in various activities that allow them to drift away on one side from all the stress, and immediately concentrate afterwards on the other hand.

Here are four simple activities that can be done with your class. There is no need to be anxious or worried if during the first few times there will be some jiggles and some embarrassment:

1. While sitting on chairs or lying on the floor on their backs – slow breaths with eyes shut, inhaling air and ballooning the belly, exhaling the air for 3-4 seconds. In each exhale the body sinks more and more to the chair/floor; there is no stress in the shoulder, pelvis, hands, neck and head. After 507 minutes the kids can open their eyes and open the day.

2. Every child sits in front of an A4 empty page, while pleasant music is played in the background (classical, acoustic guitars, melody, world music) and the kids draw the music (Take a look in the "seeing music" post). When the music ends the children place the page in their backpacks and continue to the next assignment.
*You can have a conversation of the drawings, how the music made them feel, thoughts etc.

3. Stand in a circle, and throw a ball while saying words that express fear/stress/anxiety/anger etc. Once each child has spoken, ask the children to say a trait or a personal ability to cope with different issues while throwing the ball to a friend. The friend in turn must remember what were the traits named before the ball was thrown to him/her, and after a sequence of 5-6 traits you start over.
The goal is to create a positive chain that shows the power the class and the kids have.
You can also play this game with naming good traits or behaviors in the class, such as listening, helping each other etc.

4. There are games in which the power of the group is of great importance, when after the game has ended you can discuss and analyze the subject projecting on any relevant issue, such as to our family, or to any specific personal or educational coping mechanism.

You can turn the method elected to a daily routine for a certain amount of time, thus entering the kids to a better zone of learning and listening for the rest of the day.   

All the posts and materials belongs to Sharon Michaeli- Ramon ©

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Game of Flags - A Social Mirror and a Social and Personal Working Tool

I believe in the power of a group to create a change, and in the power of the game. This year I am educating 5th graders for the first time, and I have met the pupils for the first time on September. In order to reach different goals I have placed for us, I am using various strategies, and currently I would like to present the Game of Flags, which is a strategic-physical-social game, from which you can learn a lot on the class/group, and work on various issues with them.

Game of Flags is an intensive game in which two groups play against each other in order to obtain the opponent's group flag. 

You divide a court to two parts, one for each group, and place 2 different flags in each of its sides. Every team gathers and decides what will be her strategy, how to get to the opponents' flag, who is in defense and who is in offence, who will protect the flag, who will rescue team-mates etc.
The middle of the playground is marked, and you can captive any of the other group members that enter your side. The "prisoner" must wait where he was caught until he is rescued by someone from his group by a "high-five".
The game is a field for many interactions, and I, as the educator, stands on the side and observe. This is one game in which I only observe the teams, and I don't take an active part in it. Some of the things I take notes of are:

1/ the coherence of the group/class
2/ the way each group plans strategically
3/ the personal character of each pupil

4/ the way the pupils plan, their courage, patience etc. For example: pupil who try to save "captives" even at the risk of being caught themselves; pupils who will always be careful and stay at their group's territory, ambushing an opponent member when they enter this territory; a pupil who was caught but cheats and runs back into the court (and the reaction of their friends)  etc.

5/It is supposed to be a fun time of the group/class. Are they having fun? Are there any frictions? Does anyone prefer not to participate?

Through the game I wish to develop : A class's coherence and cooperation; girls and boys cooperation; patience; a joint strategic planning and not just the emergence of the natural "sporty leaders"; personal abilities such as patience, thinking and planning etc.; a reflection ability and feedback – both personal and in the group; elevating class value.

Work Stages:
You go out with the class to play the game a few times, when I keep changing the group composition, in order to balance the boys/girls numbers, balance athletic  kids with non-athletic ones etc, and also in order to gently break pre-existing sub-groups.