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August 2019 - Year 21 - Issue 4

ISSN 1755-9715

The Park

Amy Claire Humphreys is a Primary School Teacher - PGCE, MA, BA Hons. Email: amy20016@hotmail.com

 

Background

Having taught NEW TO ENGLISH as well as EAL Primary school children for the last ten years in English Curriculum schools in the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), I have developed a method of teaching English that not only allows children to access different areas of Literacy but also improves their confidence therefore participation across the whole curriculum. This method provides the opportunity, with support if necessary, to teach children to apply phonics to read, then discuss what they have read and draw it, and finally write their own sentences using the same sentence starters and new vocabulary in English. The instructions for teaching the booklet are on the first page and there are follow-up questions and instructions for writing activities at the end.

The main selling points are: 

  • Meaningful settings (especially UAE settings) to hook in reluctant as well as unconfident learners. 
  • Variety of activities in the booklet to maintain the interest of the children.
  • Repetition of sentence starters and expanded noun phrases to reinforce sentence structure.

The market I am aiming this at are Primary school teachers of NEW TO ENGLISH and EAL children also EAL and SEN teachers finally KS1 school teachers to use as starters (draw the setting….how do you know what it looks like?), it could be the main input to help teach expanded noun phrases, it could even be used as plenaries (spot the mistake, which sentence is correct? How do you know? Why do you think that?)

My main objective is to create meaningful texts that interest children new to, and, learning English. I feel there is a gap in the market, particularly in the UAE, because most children cannot relate to many of the settings in the fiction books they read. For example, many stories are set in the snow or rain, near a river, up a mountain or in a forest. Children in the UAE cannot relate to this because they have no experience of this.

I’m not sure if it needs a front cover. I know this increases costs yet at the same time may, indeed, make the booklets more appealing. If yes, perhaps just outlines of the settings so as not to give away too many clues or stifle the imagination of the children.

I haven’t seen anything similar. The font is the same as Read Write Inc. but I would happily change to another child- friendly font. I would love some support to distribute this so more children, outside my own class, can benefit. I have written seven so far......

 

The Park: Notes for teachers and supporting adults

This is designed to be read with a child or small group of children therefore do support them to decode the words or even read it to them.

After you have read a page, ask the children if they can explain the meaning of words or draw a picture to help them describe the words but if they cannot, you should explain and / or draw the meaning of the words.

Sentence starters are repeated to teach the children how to open sentences in their writing. You should point this out to the children. The sentences are built up in such a way to show the children how to add detail (adjectives, verbs, prepositions) to make their writing more exciting. The children need to make the connection that, in order to imagine then draw a picture of the place, we, the readers, need as much information as possible.

After completing the reading, drawing and colouring (clues are in the text and children should identify these before adding more detail using their own imagination), use the opportunity for the child or group of children to write their own sentences. Children should be encouraged to first draw the setting. They can draw the same setting, another of their choice, or even create a setting using their own imagination. Children must be able to discuss their setting. You can support them with this by asking different questions. What can you see, hear, touch, taste, smell? Is anyone or anything else with you? What is happening? How do you feel there? Why? What is going to happen next? Children can also be given the same sentence starters as in the text for support with their writing. Encourage children to add adjectives for detail too.

This writing practice, especially if they use the bank of ideas in the text, will further reinforce the new vocabulary. Encourage the children to check their spellings using the text too.

This is designed to allow children to access Literacy in a meaningful way because these stories are based on real-life experiences so the children should not only be able to empathise but also have a bank of ideas ready for writing their own sentences too. Adapt as necessary. Every child learning English, especially NEW TO ENGLISH, is different but the key is building confidence. Therefore do gauge the attitude and effort of the children. It is a huge challenge learning a new language so perhaps read one page, discuss the text and draw. If you are not learning new words, continue on to the next page. However, if the child or children are learning lots of new words, be mindful that they will tire easily, no matter what their age, so maybe leave and continue on the next morning. At the start of the next session, before reading the new page, without the booklet, ask the children to write the new vocabulary from the session before and ask them to explain or draw a picture to describe the word. You can then assess how the children’s English phonics in their speaking and writing is developing as well as if they can recall the words and also what they mean. Like I have mentioned, learning a new language is a huge undertaking so do not overwhelm the children with a spelling test. Finally. praise, in all teaching, is essential especially to building confidence so the children participate as wholeheartedly as possible so reward the children with lots of dojos or house points!

 

I am in the park.

I am in the big park.

I am in the big green park.

I am in the big green park with my mum and dad.

 

I can see children.

I can see small children.

I can see small happy children playing.

I can see small happy children playing on the swings.

 

I can feel the sand.

I can feel the soft sand.

I can feel the soft yellow sand.

I can feel the soft yellow sand in between my hands.

 

I run on the grass.

I run on the green grass.

I run on the green wet grass.

I run on the green wet grass with my dad.

 

My small feet get wet.

My thin legs get wet.

My tiny hands get wet.

My skinny arms get wet.

 

I have fun with my mum and dad at the pa

 

I have fun.

I have fun at the big green park.

I have fun with my mum and dad at the big green park.

 

I feel hungry.

I can taste an ice cream.

I can taste a cold ice cream.

I can taste a cold yummy ice cream mmm.

 

I feel tired.

I feel tired in the sun.

I feel tired in the hot sun.

I feel tired in the hot yellow sun.

 

I lie on a soft rug.
I lie on a rug.

I lie on a soft blue rug.

I go to sleep on the soft blue rug with my mum and dad zzz.

 

Ideas for questions

Can you tell me the main events in the park? Can you tell me them in order?

Imagine you are in the park. Use your senses. What can you see, hear, smell, touch, taste?

How did you get wet? Use the word ‘because’.

Why are you hungry? Use the word ‘because’.

Why are you feeling tired? Use the word ‘because’.

Would you like to go to the park? Why? Use the word ‘because’.

Who would you go with?

What games would you choose to play? Why? Use the word ‘because’.

Who would you play the games with?

What food and drink would you choose to have and why? Use the word ‘because’.

 

Now, write your own sentences about a park you have visited, or even another setting, using the sentence starters and new vocabulary to help you with ideas!

Remember to draw your setting first!

Challenge: Can you think of different words for big and small?

 

Please check the Methodology and Language for Kindergarten course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Methodology and Language for Primary course at Pilgrims website.

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