April 2014 E-News from Elizabeth ClaireClick here if you no longer want to receive our free E-News. unsubscribe.
Contents of this April E-NEWS
Competition in the classroom
Having just watched the Olympic Games, we periodically
get to rethink the idea of competition in the classroom as well as in
the sports arena.
Is it good for kids when some always come out on
top and others are always on the short end of the stick? I don't think
so. It's the "always" that is the problem.
If it's true that students who feel smart learn
faster, how can we make our students all feel smart when they are different
ages, different levels of English?
I'm convinced that there is a competitive instinct
in us all...We create and internalize standards of excellence that we
try to reach up to. Or have heros we want to emulate.
How can we harness it to get all students to learn
a lot more than when everyone is treated equally? And have them stimulated
by failure, not become resigned and give up?
Compete against one's own yesterday. Compete in
teams. Compete against the clock. Compete in a wide variety of areas of
knowledge and abilities. Compete in different categories. Compete in ways
that call for cooperation among team members, or a class against another
class, or a school vs another school.
Teach encouragement skills. How to speak to others
and yourself to give encouragement. Develop a class spirit, where everyone
feels special and appreciated.
Repeat competitions so all improve.
Competition is fun for the winners. It's motivating
for many of the runners up to do better.
But how do we make competition fun for those at
a lower level of English, grade level, or ability?
Coaching, partners, practice.
And choices. In a competition for example, between
two teams, create questions of varying difficulty and assign points to
them. Have a stack of very easy questions suitable for entry level students,
worth one point, a stack of middle difficulty questions for two points,
a stack of hard questions for three points, and a stack of extra hard
questions for four points, etc. Students get to choose the number of points
they want to try for.
When students choose a question with a lower value,
that they are more likely to get correct, they can manage their own tolerance
A secure, more advanced student might choose a
question with a high point value and risk not getting any points for the
team at all.
A contestant might be allowed to request help from
someone on the team, if she or he doesn't know the answer.
Students love competition when there are opportunities
for leveling the playing field.
But the "affective filter" rises up when
they feel that they let their team down, or are laughed at or humiliated.
When that filter of anxiety comes up, the learning rate goes down or becomes
an unlearning. It's important to first create a culture of cooperation
and encouragement among the students. They are all "up against"
the same challenge...learning to understand and speak English.
The game Just-A-Minute! can be played in ways that level the playing field. A student can
choose whether he or she wants just a minute to get team mates to guess
the eight words on his card, or 45 seconds, or up to two minutes. They
quickly see their own progress.
My resource book, ESL Teacher's Activities Kit, has
a segment for quiz games. There are 300 questions in six difficulty levels
suitable for team competition.
of Easy English NEWS for April 2014
Front page: Earth and its Energy (Our Earth Month
issue) . Advantages and disadvantages
of nine different energy sources.
Life in the U.S. A. Cleaning up:
Cleanaring products, Directions and Warnings, Poison Control Center
Events in April covered
in Easy English NEWS:
the Beautiful; Heroes and History: not this month, as the Earth
Month article, Earth and its energies,continues from from page to the
two-page spread, pages 6 and 7.
- April Fool's Day
- Income Tax Deadline
- Patriots' Day
- Earth Day
- Administrative Professionals' Day
- Arbor Day
- National Poetry Month
Ask a Speech Coach: /l/
and /r/ These are so troublesome for many Asian students.
regular features: This Is Your Page (readers' stories), Funny
Stuff, Idioms, the Crossword Puzzle, Let's Talk About It, and Word Help.
PLUS PLUS: free at my website: 16 pages of self-correcting
tests for the current issue of Easy English NEWS.
If you didn't get your Teacher's Guide for April,
its available at my website.
24-page generic "How To Use Easy English NEWS in Your ESL
Classroom" with 9 reproducible graphic organizers. .
Order form for Spring 2014 for Easy English
Books by Elizabeth Claire:
ESL Phonics for All Ages, Books 1 through 5
ESL Teacher's Activities Kit
ESL Teacher's Holiday Activities Kit
Easy English Crossword Puzzles
Classroom Teacher's ESL Survival Kit # 1 and
Kit # 2
Kristina, 1904, the Greenhorn Girl
Just-A-Minute! Speaking Game
Help Your Buddy Learn English
FREE: The Constitution in Simple English
Safety in Simple English
Other free materials
Your Health by Dr. Majid Ali
An E-Book of 31 reproducible
easy English articles with word help from past columns of
Your Health by Dr. Ali, $10.
Treasure Chest 1, a potpourri
of reproducible games, songs, and useful stuff is also $10. Check
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Prices range from free to 99 cents to $4.99.
here to go to the Amazon Kindle Store at my website
Carry on your good work!
© Elizabeth Claire 2014.