16 June 2012

A busy week as the countdown continues.

Nine school days to go!17 sleeps until I fly out of Phnom Penh.
18 sleeps until I land on Australian soil (I get to sleep in Kuala Lumpur for one night).

It's been a busy week this week. We've been doing standardised reading tests, two maths tests, writing biography posters, spelling, journal writing, and lots more.

This week our students completed a Reading Placement Test, and it was really interesting to look at the results. The majority of students did very well on the "Phonics" section of the test, then very poorly on the "Vocabulary" section, followed by satisfactory performance on the "Comprehension" section. Considering the majority of our students had very little exposure to English until they were about 5 years old, it is not surprising that their vocabulary is less than what a student who has heard English all around them most of their lives. What I do find surprising at times is the level of comprehension they have, despite the limitations of their vocabulary. The majority of students did really well. Clearly enhanced development of vocabulary is something I will be thinking about very seriously as I plan for the new school year.

One of the fun things we started this week was a final "novel study" with each of my Language Arts groups. I really want to do more of these next year, and to use graphic organisers to help the children think about various aspects of the books they read (characterisation, plot, setting, etc.). One group is reading "Ramona Quimby, Age 8", while the other group is reading "Fudge-a-mania". I'm hoping we can get the books finished before we break up, but it could be challenging. Graphic organisers are great for helping the children think about what they are reading, and those which use drawing allow all students to participate, even those who find reading and writing challenging.

Inventions went on hold this week, although we did have a further look at the life of Alexander Graham Bell, one very famous inventor. Meanwhile I've got a stack of empty tissue boxes waiting for me to fill them with miscellaneous items ready for my students to begin "inventing". We will see if they can come up with something that way. Hopefully I won't just get toy cars and planes. This is a really hard activity to scaffold, because I don't want to stifle their creativity, but I also want to students to "invent" something useful.

Next week we've got maths tests to complete, and the end of year concert on Friday night, so we'll be busy again. It will be the final week for structured homework, and biography posters are due in next Friday (some are already finished). While we are winding down, it's really important to keep a level of routine happening. Bored kids end up getting into trouble.

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