Our Educational Message

Hi, and welcome to our blog. This space is designed to share ideas and methodologies that we use to teach Turkish teenagers. In particular, there is a strong focus on ICT-ELT, which means if you like visual and technological support for your style of teaching, this blog is for you. My colleague, Brentson Ramsey, has been working alongside me for three years. He is also a big proponent of the ICT-ELT Paradigm, which means he will also be posting from his own teaching perspective on the blog.

2010 was the beginning of this new journey, and although there is no definitive ICT-ELT road map available for everyone to follow, it is exciting to explore the technological means to make teaching more fun and affective for students. Our main message is for teachers to ADOPT & ADAPT the paradigm shift for their own needs, and remember that

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

LIFE LESSON: Why are people so prejudiced?

Little Boy tells the story of an eight-year-old boy who is willing to do whatever it takes to end World War II, so he can bring his father home. However, in order to do this he befriends a Japanese-American citizen who has recently been released from the Japanese internment camp he had been forcibly removed some years earlier.  This leads to many problems for the little boy with the locals, who quite unashamedly project their racial hatred and war hysteria on both the little boy and his Japanese mentor.  This conflict provides the sub-plot to the movie and offers the audience an insight to yet another racist episode, not much highlighted upon, in US history.

In addition to the racial tension we see in the film, the director, Alejandro Monteverde, also highlights bullying between the school children; something for which I spend a great deal of time pointing out to my teenage students in their Life Lessons.  So, I have edited some scenes from the movie that can be used with your students to point out how horrible children can be, but also to remind them bullying also happens between adults, unfortunately.


This shows how the bully & his gang pick on the protagonist because of his (short) size...


Here we learn how certain names should not be used when referring to minorities...


The Little Boy gets chased as retribution for his mom grassing up the bully to his father


Now it is the turn of the locals to turn on the Japanese-American. Little Boy is shocked.


Here the gang chase Little Boy along the street. His mentor comes to the rescue...


The Bully steals Little Boy's list.  What will he do now? He goes to see his friend.


Little Boy learns about the power of self-belief by listening about Samurai warriors.


Now Little Boy witnesses the prejudice and bullying of older siblings and adults when they verbally attack and threaten his Japanese friend and mentor.  So, he decides to stand up for his friend and for what is right.  He holds a strong belief that "man can move a mountain" if he so desires after being told so by the local priest in the hope of getting his father back form the war.  He goes about trying to move that mountain.  The metaphor is both powerful and memorable as he goes about changing the mindset of the rather ignorant local townsfolk he is living beside.

The above clips have been chosen as prompts for your students to look at how prejudice and racism happen everywhere, and have done all throughout history.  For American teachers and students who may be reading this blog, for which I thank you :-) if you are, you could use these clips to highlight a rather dark part of your own 20th Century history and the internment of thousands of Japanese American citizens in the 1940s.

On December 8th, 1941, the United States of America declared war on Japan, and by the end of 1942 over 100,000 Japanese-American people were put into internment camps away from the populated areas of the country.  They were rounded up like criminals and sent to these camps. Many of them were held there until the war ended. However, some were released earlier, but their daily lives were filled with race hatred and fear from the other American people.  In fact, in 1988, Ronal Reagan entered an apology into legislation to those Japanese-American families for all the suffering they had incurred at the hands of the US government.  The apology stated that the reason they were interred was based on racial prejudice and war hysteria.  He also apologised for the government stating they had failed in political leadership.  Each family was awarded $20,000 compensation.

It is fitting that the US government apologised for their actions, but it was probably too little too late.  However, these clips can shed light on some history they perhaps do not know, and act as springboards for them to respond either through discussion or in their commentaries.  

note: the facts and figures from the Japanese internment are courtesy of www.wikipedia.com

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Making COMICS work for your students during the summer and beyond...

Show me any teenager, no matter their nationality, who doesn't know the Simpsons. That is why, when I started my summer remedial support program, I thought of using their comics as a way to outreach students and make them see the brilliance of reading through comedy and quality life lessons. So, having found some nice pdf versions of some comics I shared them on the students' Edmodo classroom and assigned them to read the first story, which is only 14 pages long.  It had an instant effect and the students responded favourably instead of the normal moans and groans associated with summer reading.

The easiness of producing questions for such stories cannot be understated.  You can type up fifteen to twenty questions in no time at all.  That is becasue I suggest producing surface comprehension questions.  You should focus on the surface nature of the narrative, and that way, at the very least, you can undwerstand if the students have read the stories or not. The students don't want to be bogged down with seriously thought-provoking teasers during their summer holidays down by the pool.  Getting the to read in the target language at all means you have succeeded somewhat.

Apart from the students just simply enjoying the story of Homer

and his family of rather adorable characters, you can get the students to pick up on new vocabulary items along the way.  Once they find some, they can then find the meanings and write sentences or mini paragraphs to show that they have understood what they mean and how best to use them in written English.

I went into the comic first and looked for the words I thought the students might not have seen before.  This way I can check once they all respond on Edmodo with their sentences or mini paragraphs to see they have found them all.  The list is below

I always keep an answer key on my google drive so that I have instant access to the information for either feedback day or when we return to class.  Since the advent of google drive I have made this a must-do thing for myself, and it has meant a lot leass time spent faffing around looking for answers to questions you maybe made three months earlier.  I thank my colleague Brentson for convincing me of overly planning each unit we prepare, and providing ourselves with these real time answer keys.

The final part of the activity is to make a quiz based on the questions you found when you were reading through the comic.  As I wrote earlier the majority of the questions are surface from the narrative just to keep the students aware they are being monitored for their summer school work.  I will throw in perhaps a teaser that also gets them to think more about the theme or storyline, but it is just to vary the question type.  Nothing too heavy.  In this quiz that question was basically testing whether the students could work out that the Simpsons creators like to have a wee social commentary going on in the sub text.

This image is from Edmodo Quiz feature, and it is set up as short response questions.  I prefer those to multi-choice or T/F for reading, since students tend to guess and don't read properly if you chose the latter two types.  It also gets the EFL students to practice using the proper syntax in their answers.

Once they have done the quiz and had feedback of right or wrong and why, I get the students to write a wee testimony saying whether they liked the comic or not, and hopefully why.  The last part is more difficult to get them to do in the summer, but it is always nice to see what they think anyway, if they write one.

So, all in all the experiment was good, and I will be adding more comics for the students to work on.  It is refreshing for them and a lot less tedious than heavy-laden prose for them to try and read in the summer holidays.  I wish you luck should you want to try this idea also with your own students...there are links to the materials below this image