Showing posts with the label Teaching

How MACOS Could Have Been Better

Man: A Course of Study was an education program developed and implemented in the 1970s based on the work of psychologist Jerome Bruner. The idea was to study the complete lifespan of different animals in greater and greater complexity. An American politician was able to eventually kill the program because he didn't like the Inuit, or Eskimos, which were studied in the program.

There is a good documentary film on the political controversy called "Through These Eyes". I won't dive into that very much. Instead, I'm going to look at the merit of the program and how it could have been better. Here's the link to the documentary:

The basic idea of the program was to study the whole life cycle of salmon, then herring gulls, then baboons, then the Netsilik Eskimos. Studying animal behavior is quite a bit different than studying science, technology, engineer…

Stories are Like Math, with Two Examples from Students

I started teaching my first student a little over two years ago. His name was Parker. He is still my student.


Parker started the third grade this year and was very happy to learn that he is more advanced in English math than his classmates are in Chinese math (he is from, and lives in, China). His class is studying how to do the perimeters and areas of squares and rectangles. Parker and I went through that many months ago, and we went through the Pythagorean theorem (how to find the hypotenuse of a triangle with A^2+B^2=C^2) a few months ago, along with how to find the area of triangles. Just recently we are basically through how to find the circumference and area of circles. Parker likes math, but still, learning this type of thing can be boring. So, here's what we do.

We start off by reviewing things, we do work on terminology but our main focus is on the math skills themselves. We do a square, a rectangle, and a triangle. Then we focus a little more on a circle because th…

A Story for Linda

I often have interesting classes with students. For instance, this article isn't even going to be about the six-year-old from two days ago that is fluent in English and when the book wasn't working shared a 30 minute conversation with me that included her desire to be a DNA scientist so that she can resurrect the dinosaurs, and her further plans to become an engineer to design a lightsaber to fight off the dinosaurs, which was all followed by our debate about whether pterodactyls would be able to kill t-rex babies better or whether t-rexes would be able to kill pterodactyl babies better. Nope, this article is about a ten-year-old named Linda.

Linda is learning phonics and she's doing pretty well. She can read early children's' books. By the time we had come to the end of the material (I don't select the teaching material when I'm working with this company) we still had a few minutes of class left and she had seemed a bit bored with the material anyway. Unfo…

Eleven Comments From ESL Students

It's interesting to get comments from students. Through one of the companies that I teach for I have an almost random selection of students. A student pops up, a workbook pops up, and we start. That's where these comments come from. They are mostly translated from Chinese into English, so it might sound a little odd.

Here they are, in reverse chronological order.

1 - Thank you for your patience

2 - Thanks tor teaching me English toningt.In fact,you should teach my little brother,but he is very shy and it is a first day to learn English.I hope you don't angry with him. Thank you!!

3 - Very patient teacher who will guide children in communication, good teacher

4 - Thank you! Ttacher.

5 - I am sorry, teacher, I will not send my heart, only one, do not mind. I really like your class and I'm glad to meet you

6 - You are a good teacher. You teach well. Thank you.

7 - Teacher you are very good ! I like you soo much ! Your class is very fun ! I will study English forever,and I…

"Kinderello" By Jenny (aka Carrie), with some help from Jeff

"Kinderello" has been finished. I helped, but perhaps less than one might think. At the least, the story itself is entirely not mine. The full story, as it stands, is below. As an aside, Jenny noticed that the name Jenny is very common and another girl in her class was using the name as well, so she now uses Carrie at times, I still call her Jenny. Let me know what you think of the story.

Once upon a time there was a boy named Kinderello. He lived happily with his mom and dad. Every weekend he played water polo with his father and his father taught him a lot.
Once, Kinderello went to school. His father and mother went to work. Suddenly there was a car driving very quickly and nearly hurt his mom. So his dad pulled her with his whole weight and his mom was okay, but his dad was crushed by the car. His mom took him to the hospital, but it was no use. His father can never play water polo with Kinderell…

Stories With Students: Jenny Writes a Cinderella Parody, and Parker Continues Writing About Pokemon

Jenny and I were studying 'The Raven' by Edgar Allan Poe, but we made a pivot.

Her school teacher had been the one to originally urge her in the direction of studying English poetry. I urge my students to bring anything to me that they want to learn. That's how we end up on such interesting subjects.

Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken' went well, and 'The Raven' was going well also. But Jenny's teacher made a new suggestion, that she work on writing a story. This came up in our conversation, so now we're doing it.

Jenny read Cinderella originally when she was 4, I assume in Chinese. She's been thinking about writing her own version of Cinderella for about a month. I asked her to tell me the basic version of Cinderella just to get a feel for what she felt was important in the story, but she's been thinking about this for too long already and here's what came out instead.


Exploring the Case Study of an Eight-Year-Old Second Language Speaker's Writing Process Using Transcription and Dialectic

This is one of the most interesting things I've ever done, and my list includes making a mistake skydiving, being trapped on a ledge and stepping into a crevasse mountain climbing, being hit while running with bulls, scuba diving through jellyfish, whitewater rafting, mountain biking over the cascade mountains, being poisoned while on the beach of the Indian Ocean in Kenya, getting a black eye and a bloody nose in a giant tomato fight, and many other things. My point is, it's awesome!

My article from a couple of days ago was about the Pokemon story that I wrote for Parker in one class, and how he came up with the ideas for his own story. When we started this lesson he said, "If I can write a Pokemon story I will die!" I associate that kind of phrase with teenage American girls, but it basically means it's so good that it's overwhelming.
Here are the notes that we had to work with from our last lesson.


Translating "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe from English to English

I have a student, Jenny, that wants to learn popular English poetry. We went through "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost and now we're working on "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe. We are working on the third stanza right now; going over the individual words, the phrases, the lines, and the stanzas. She is doing well. We puzzle through it. I focus on asking questions at first, as we progress my explanations become more clear, I think. That way she can hopefully figure it out before I fully explain what everything means. I do try to go through each stanza after we finish talking about it and give a simplified contemporary version. I told her that I would do that for the first three stanzas and send it to her. That's what I'm going to do right now.

Here are the first three stanzas from "The Raven."

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint a…

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