Saturday, April 16, 2011

Final Week

This last week came and went very quickly. My students were all very kind and expressed their feelings about me leaving very nicely with gifts like cards, candy, and some tears. We have had a great time working together and I am going to miss my Argentine very much. The final week was a comprised of an exam about the story that we have been working with over the last couple weeks, and a project about a famous person of the students’ choosing. A few weeks ago we studied some famous people in the students’ textbook and we played a quiz show game that they enjoyed a lot. The quiz show game was a team game during which the class was divided into two teams and each team selected one representative to face off and answer a question. They enjoyed this game so much, and wanted to play again so badly, I decided to incorporate it into our farewell party. The students completed their projects first period on Friday and then they presented their projects about their famous person to the class during second period. I took notes on the presentations and created some additional questions based on the information given to use in our quiz game later that day. For our final farewell party at the end of the day I brought some cookies for the class and we had a snack as we began to play the game. The students had a great time playing the quiz game and it was a good opportunity to stay on task while we enjoyed our last period together. Incorporating the questions about their presentations was a fun way to get them interested in their classmates' projects as well as reinforcing the themes discussed in the presentations. The headmasters came in briefly to say goodbye and also to give me some nice going away presents. They gave me the pin that all of the teachers at the school are required to wear of the school’s coat of arms, a school flag, and coffee mug as well. These gestures were appreciated very much by me and will help me to always remember my time at Saint Charles College.
I am looking forward to getting home to my dog Blue, but will also miss all of my new friends here in Buenos Aires. When I get back I will spend some time uploading the things that I have collected such as pictures and videos to share with all blog readers.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Raton Perez

The loose that tooth story has been a big hit with the class this week. The students have their own copy of the book and I think that they enjoy having their own little book to work out of more than using stories from the textbook from day to day. The story plays with words a bit and it was a challenge to describe the jokes to the class in a way that they would be able to understand the context. Also, the play on words served as a nice platform for teaching new words. The tooth un-fairy was one of the titles of a chapter and this generated a lot of discussion. I needed to explain what the tooth fairy was to the students because here in Argentina they do not have the tooth fairy, they have a mouse named Perez. This required translation of the word fairy, along with a description of the common tooth fairy. Once this concept was concrete I proceeded to describe the use of the word fair and held a discussion about what is fair and unfair. Once I was sure that all the students were with me about the difference between fair and unfair, and the cultural difference between the tooth fairy and “Raton Perez” I was able to show that the name of this chapter was a play on words, and not surprisingly, only a handful of the students were able to share this humor. This wordplay was a fun opportunity for a minilesson about fair and unfair and was a lesson that I will always remember because of my newfound knowledge of the Argentine, Raton Perez.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Peneultimo Semana

This week is our second to last here in Buenos Aires working at Saint Charles College. We are sad that we are getting this close to the end of our visit because we are really getting into the swing of things here. I have had less time to blog since we have been volunteering more at the adult evening school and also spending the remainder of our free time getting the last few things on our must-see list checked off. This past weekend we got one last big thing off the to-do list by completing a successful trip to Uruguay. The trip included a boat ride to and from, and a city tour of the oldest city in Uruguay, Colonia; founded by the Portugese in 1680. After the tour we had a few hours to explore and which passed nicely at the beach taking a swim and watching a crew regatta. I am sure this week of class will pass by quickly as we are introducing a new book, Loose That Tooth, as well as continuing our regular activities like weekend journals and working with the Bright Sparks activity book. I have been learning the songs, along with the guitar accompaniment, that the childrens’ choir is learning here, and look forward to sharing them with you all because they are very fun.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Volunteer Opportunities at Bright Stars and The Hilton

Today we took our fieldtrip to Bright Stars College to teach English lessons for the afternoon and to share some ideas and experiences with the teachers there. The director of Saint Charles planned this trip for us and he has also volunteered us to serve there in the afternoon for the remainder of this week. I felt lucky to see another bi-lingual school in the area and was happy to oblige our directors desire to “share the Americans” with his affiliates. The Bright Stars College is a much smaller school than Saint Charles and this basic difference changed the dynamic of the leaning environment a lot. I wish that I could have taken more pictures of the inside of their recreation and kitchen facility as it is annexed from the rest of the school across the street is a beautiful old building. To spend time in this building alone was worth the trip and day of service as it was stunningly beautiful. I will post some photos later this week and you will see what I mean. The size of the student body affects the learning because often the levels are combined for lessons as there may be less than ten students in each age group. Bright Stars is a new school and their population is still young and growing. Also the school’s resources are in the development stages; we were able to help the teachers go through some new resources such as books, posters and flashcard sets that they had just received and not yet gone through. We helped them to identify what we felt were very useful and also to explain some things about the phonics learning tools that the teachers were not trained to use (like us, they did not learn much phonics in grade school; but they also didn’t receive the phonics training like we did at University). It was rewarding for us to be able to explain the usefulness of these tools for teaching phonics to the teachers at Bright Stars because we have not encountered any phonics based teaching methods at Saint Charles. We have been missing our phonics because it is such a large part of the curriculum that we have learned at NMU and use it so often at the schools in Michigan.
We will be attending parent night tomorrow evening at Bright Stars and will be given the opportunity to briefly discuss the meaning for our visit. More importantly I will be proud to emphasize the value that I place on the type of bi-lingual learning environment that Bright Stars is providing for its students. Our service out side of Saint Charles has also continued to grow each day as we are now attending three sections of evening school at the Hilton Language Academy. We will be volunteering almost every evening for the remainder of our trip as we have had open invitations to help out in both adult groups and the teenage course as well. Our participation in these classes has been valued by both the students attending as well as by the teachers who appreciate the extra support as we break up into small groups and help the students with discussions and practice. I am going to miss being surrounded with such enthusiasm for learning when I come home I think I will be inspired to start some kind of adult learning club for Spanish enthusiasts. There is just something about attending a course where everyone is working so happily to learn that makes me feel great about being a teacher.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

3-22 Cunningham's

We were invited to attend an evening class for adult English learners which we attended this evening. The students were between the ages of 20 and 37 years old and all were eager to practice their English with us. The occupations of these learners included university students, small business owners, fashion designers, and cosmetologists. We split the group into two smaller teams and Stephanie and I took time getting to know each team. We shared interests and also received some much appreciated insight about some must see nuances of Buenos Aires. We helped the teacher to present her activity that she had planned for the evening which included translating some “slang” phrases; this was a fun way to generate more conversation amongst us and allowed me to pick up some new Spanish phrases that were not covered in other conversational courses I have participated in. Our attendance was welcomed very genuinely along with being invited to attend future classes Tuesday and Thursdays (as well as an advanced section on Mondays and Wednesdays), these are invitations I plan on accepting humbly. Tonight I made some new friends and also enjoyed an opportunity to improve my Spanish speaking. It was a pleasure to attend class and I am looking forward to meeting the other group.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday, March 21

Today we continued to talk about the simple past tense with our students. They will be having a test on this next week so we will continue to practice throughout the week. The lesson today was focused on the differences between an affirmative, negative, or interrogative sentence. The students have been given sentences that have a blank in the space for the verbs and they need to identify the correct verb form to use. They have trouble with wanting to use the past tense form all the time whether the sentence is affirmative or not. The thing that we are working on is identifying the sentence type before we place our verb form. The sentences that they are receiving are mixed with each type, the ones that are negative all have the phrase didn’t to identify that the sentence is already in the past so the past tense form of the verb is not necessary; all of the interrogative sentences start with did to help reinforce this relationship between did? And didn’t.
Examples: I __________ (visit) my Grandma last weekend.
We___________ (not/have) pizza for lunch.
_______ Mary __________(listen) to music?
Each Monday the students write a Weekend Journal about what they did over the weekend. This is another opportunity for us to practice forming sentences using the past tense. We were asked to create a short paragraph to share with the class.
Kyle and Steph’s Weekend journal for Junior 3
This weekend Stephanie and I went to Chinatown with Lillian. We took the train from Acasusso to Belgrano. We walked to a restaurant that is close to the train station. For lunch we ate Sushi, it was delicious. After lunch we walked through Chinatown and looked in the shops. Kyle bought a wind chime for his girlfriend because she collects wind chimes. Stephanie bought a colorful dress. After we shopped we went to the Botanical Gardens. We walked through the Botanical Gardens and learned more about the plants and trees that grow in South America.
On Sunday afternoon we went to the artisan fair at SanTelmo. We rode the train to Retiro station and then took a Taxi-cab to the artisan fair. We had fun listening to tango in the streets. We ate a Chorizo for lunch. After we looked at some very beautiful artwork we took the train back home.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saint Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patty’s Day! Today is a day to have some fun so I played a game with my students. We made a set of cards of which one color contains present tense verbs and their forms in the past are written on a different color card. The irregular verbs in the past tense are difficult for English learners as they have to memorize all of the irregular verb forms. This game worked well to give the students an interactive way to practice with these verb forms. I passed out a past tense card to each student and then said, for example, “I have go, who has went”. The student who had the matching card would then stand up and say “I have went.” The next thing I did was pass out both the past and present tense cards to the students and have them find their matching card. With their new partner they then practiced using the past tense form by writing a sentence in their copy books. The students then presented their words to the class by taking turns in the front, using the microphone (glue stick) and saying their phrase and words to the class (they really like taking turns using the “microphone”). After that the students had drama class and after drama we recommenced our work on the past by writing about their last birthday. I had some green balloons and put them at the top of the board to generate some excitement about the birthday party topic (this worked well). After the students were done writing their paragraphs, and some were read out loud, we underlined all of the past tense verbs with colored pencil. Just before the end of the day I explained the real reason why I brought the green balloons, Saint Patrick’s Day! I explained quickly what this day means to the Irish and gave away some of the green balloons as the students went home for the day. The lesson went well and the students are really doing a great job of learning these irregular verb forms, a difficult aspect of our strange language to master. I wish that I could go to get a boiled dinner tonight but there are no Saint Patty’s day dinners in sight, so I think I may just have to settle for the Argentine staple once again, Pizza.