Onward and Upward
I can’t believe it has already been two months since my last post! I will have to be more diligent in writing, but the last month has been especially busy, as I have begun speaking at conferences in different parts of the Philippines on the weekends. This is on top of my typical 50+ hour work week teaching (check the method in that recommended web) , so needless to say my posts have lagged.
School has been a roller coaster ride lately, as I have introduced literacy work stations in order to develop independent learning skills and a small group environment that will improve my ability to work with such large classes. As I said, it has been a roller coaster ride. There have been moments I have been striving for in all my years of teaching – those moments when you look around the classroom and see EVERY STUDENT working enthusiastically on meaningful literacy activities, and there have been moments when I wanted to abandon all efforts and return to my safe but less penetrating whole-group instruction approaches.
My most successful, and therefore most rewarding time is spent with my small reading groups for grades 2 and 3. I am happy to see my students developing their reading skills, though it still remains fairly mystical to me. I have paired the decoding program with independent reading time, which allows me to address basic decoding skills while still encouraging realistic reading strategies. I am at a bit of a loss in terms of reading comprehension strategies with these groups though. The level of English is so low, it seems silly to try to discuss the books we read. The Philippines curriculum teaches reading at a faster rate than English skills, so I have been tasked with teaching reading, but I hate seeing the lack of understanding which develops into these “reading machines” I see in the 5th and 6th grades. Students who can read an entire page fluently, without retaining a single idea of what they just read. My instincts have led me to reading books with great pictures, as well as new vocabulary words, which is the extent of my reading comprehension activities – pointing out pictures of the words, or acting out verbs. I hope this will be effective, but please – if anyone has any suggestions on reading programs specifically for English Language Learners, please feel free to share.
In regards to donors, I have had some amazing contributions. Thanks to Alina Erdmann (more of Alina in pdf here) for toting colourful felt all the way from Germany to add to our Drama Work Station. In the way of books – special thanks to Tracy Gibeau (and associates!), Gera Balleras and Miku Ebueza for their contributions to our library! I have started lending books out to students, using a check-out system, of course – and it has been wildly successful. With these students, I can see a huge increase in vocabulary and reading comprehension, and I am thrilled to see such progress in just a month of lending!