The Period and the Sentence

How do you know where to put the period? Use your brain. Use your ears. Use your whole body.

The period is near the top of the list of mechanical things to teach when you’re working with beginning writers. But However, it’s hard for students to grasp the idea of putting a period “at the end of a sentence” when they don’t have much of a grasp of what a sentence is.

Language Experience Approach

If I’m using LEA, I’m secretly glad that I get to teach periods from the start, Continue reading

Mandated Students

Mandated Students

judge 2They come because they have to.

Any of these people may have mandated students to your adult education class: the judge or their parole officer; their lawyer, hoping to make a good impression at a sentencing hearing; their social worker, financial aid worker, workers’ compensation officer, or other professional with the power to deny their request for benefits; parents who say if they want to live at home they have to go to school.

Unlike other students in your class, they are not self motivated; their motivation comes from someone outside the class, someone you have little influence on. Continue reading

How to Say “No!” to Your Teacher

How to say “No” to your teacher introduces students to a seven-step process for saying “No,” gives them some practice using prepared scripts based on common situations, and then assigns them the task of saying “No” to each other, and to me, at least once in the following week. (Detailed lesson plan, with scripts, here)

Seven Steps to Saying “No!”

The steps are surprisingly simple to articulate: Continue reading

To, Two and Too

To, Two and Too

When I’m looking for something to do on Monday, I don’t want to see something that says, “Teach ‘to,’ ‘too,’ and ‘two’ by examining meaning and pronunciation, and find kinesthetic and auditory hooks to help learners remember the spelling.” I want details, details, details. So I’ve written lots of details today.  

Here is a lesson I have taught many times, to help students understand and remember the spelling of “to,” “too,” and “two.”

These three are called homonyms in every book or app that I have seen, but in my part of the English-speaking world, they are not all pronounced the same way. “To” is usually shortened in speech to “t’ ”  a “t” sound and a very little “uh” or schwa sound after it.

I like this lesson because it’s a new take on an old topic, because students collect and analyze the data and come up with the rules instead of me giving them out, because it involves a fair amount of moving around and fun, because it involves exploring the language, and finally because it offers the students some physical and auditory hooks to remember these three words, in addition to the usual meaning-based distinctions. Continue reading

Human Digits

Human Digits

digitsPick a digit. Pick your favorite digit–any one you want, from the pile on the table.” That’s how the “human digits” activity starts. It’s another social math activity, this one to teach place value, and to practice reading big numbers.

Make a Safer Space

I know I’m going to ask people to get themselves into groups, and some people will hang back and wait to be invited to join a group, which is stressful, and others will be nervous about being on their feet and not knowing what I have in store for them. So I put some energy into making the space more comfortable for everyone. Continue reading

Make Math Social

Make Math Social

This lovely video shows Elana Feder and her GED class doing a social math activity about Positive and Negative Numbers.

Continue reading

Bernice Shows the Way

Bernice Shows the Way

I remember the moment that I began to mark for confidence. It was Bernice who got me started.

The class was finishing up their writing, and putting it into the envelope that went upstairs to the secretary to be typed so that everyone could have a copy of everyone else’s stories. I tried to catch people as they finished up their work, to do a final proofread with them.

On that day, Bernice strode purposefully up to the envelope hanging behind me. Continue reading