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Ability levels, texts, and management of kids' English class

 
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kidsteacher



Joined: 24 Feb 2013
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:11 am    Post subject: Ability levels, texts, and management of kids' English class Reply with quote

Hello, first time poster here. Hoping to get some advice based on your experiences.

I currently run a small kids' class. I'll be changing the format of the class and adding students soon. We currently don't use a text but I will be introducing one at that time.

I plan to have three classes for the 6 elementary grades, and I am trying to work out the best way to cope with these difficulties:

1. If I have a class of 3rd-4th graders, half of that class will graduate every year and presumably be replaced with new enrollment. How can I deal with the gap in level?

2. How should I deal with the fact that one group has finished half the text but the other group has not yet started?

3. And, as I start the classes, my higher grade levels will probably not have the reading skills necessary to work with their text--even, for example, if my 5th graders are using the level 2 or 3 textbook. Should I start the text and supplement heavily, or do a vigorous month of reading training before starting the text? Both seem difficult.

Thanks for any ideas, especially those that have worked for you in the past!
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1322
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would help if we knew where you were. It makes a huge difference if you have English all around you or are the one of the only sources of English for your students.
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kidsteacher



Joined: 24 Feb 2013
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Japan, so definitely the latter!

To add a bit of information, ECC Junior, a popular English class for kids in Japan, uses their take on the spiral method, but they spiral once a year. So, for example, they have 1st and 2nd graders in the same class. The format and basic grammar of each lesson will stay the same, but the 2nd graders will study it from a new textbook with different contents from the previous year. It seems like a pretty good way to attack the problem.

Unfortunately, I haven't found any other publishers in English or Japanese who publish a series using this method.

My current thought is that I could use Genki English on a 2-year rotation, with a phonics/reading component of the class where the two groups would just work independently of each other.

Anyway, thanks for your question, and I'm looking forward to hearing any ideas you have!
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1322
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So classes once a week, for an hour with 8 kids? It sounds like they have a textbook or lesson plans provided by ECC? Don't you have to stick to that? Do the children come regularly or can they go to any ECC in the area and expect the same lesson?

Do you get to see their school work?

I don't know the series called Genki English but have heard rumours it is not good. I did use things from David's English House which I thought were good and from "Let's Go" which I enjoyed a lot. They have picture dictionaries in English and Japanese which I found great. There are twenty or so words on two pages and they follow a theme - transportation, animals, etc. I bought two of the phonics book and cut out the characters to make puppets. They had tapes as well. Great for beginners and a review. You can play so many games with the words.

I always checked on the children's homework from school to make sure I was doing similar things to their school work and tried to get their books from previous years so I could see what they had done.

You are going to have many levels no matter what age and grade the children are just because they will all progress at a different rate and have different abilities. Having them work in groups is a great idea. I usually put one really good student with a middle and two slower ones. They work as a team to accomplish the task so it usually means the good students are helping the others but you will be amazed at how much the others can contribute, particularly with games. The good students just get better because they have to explain their knowledge.

Group work requires teaching though so one person is not doing all of the work. Go at it slowly and just for short periods at the beginning and supervise closely with lots of encouragement when it goes well. One or two students may prefer to work alone, at least at the beginning.

The spiral method sounds great. It is usually built into all good curriculums but you may not see it unless you look for it. It is usually not pointed out to the students and so you lose a really good learning opportunity because you can say, "You learned this last year when you did such and such (showing them the book) and now we are reviewing that and extending it." It is much easier to learn something when you have the foundation. It is also a great way to find out when the students missed the foundation and teach it again.
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kidsteacher



Joined: 24 Feb 2013
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great thoughts Sally, thanks so much. I'll give it some thought.

Just to clarify since I wasn't so clear the first time: I won't be opening an ECC franchise, but hope to emulate (copy) a bit of what they do since it's the same format I want to use! Wink

Did you break your classes by grade level or ability level? Did you have a different Let's Go textbook for each class, or were you drawing material from various sources each week?

thanks again...
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1322
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We usually had same age groups but if we could put the same ability groups together it was a bonus. Not often possible though. I like mixed ability groups though as I said so they can help one another.

I didn't work for ECC but had some friends who did.

I used everything I could get my hands on and things I made for myself and things other teachers used. I went to conferences and got the cheap or free books at the end of conference from booksellers who didn't want to carry the books home. There is so much on the Internet these days though, I don't think you have to have that many books. We always tried to use the same format when we printed out materials though so they could put them in three ring binder and keep things organized. I think we called it "Passport to English" and had things grouped under different countries. They got stickers as they proved that they knew the material on a title page.

I spent a lot of time and money on games and the children could borrow games to play at home with siblings and parents for extra practice.

I used a digital camera a lot to set up a scene to inspire conversation and writing, plus new vocabulary. It makes it more relevant to the students and they often enjoyed being in the scenes.

I used a lot of songs and action with the younger children and made a tape so they could practice the songs at home. We had a concert at the end of the year for students and their families. Good publicity.

We celebrated all and any holiday with decorations, games, food, dress.
I had a Tickle Trunk with costumes and puppets.
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