Awareness x Acceptance – Inclusive Education

 

“We are trying to construct a more inclusive society. We are going to make a country in which no one is left out” . Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

Hello There,

This month is dedicated to austim awareness or autism acceptance. Hum, got a little bit confused but there are two points of view about this issue that many people are talking about.

What is awareness and acceptance? According to Cobuild dictionary – Awareness means “be  aware of something is happening because you hear it or see it”. So when it comes to raising awareness about Autism, many  groups, organizations, teachers and parents advocate what autism is about. In the other hand, Acceptance of someone with austim is to think of them as part of the group or in our society.

Besides, we (parents and educators) are trying to discuss and dialogue about this important issue that has been increased every year. Studies have shown autism cases on the rise and many discussions are going around.

And what about the Educational field? What about deal with them in a regular school? Are we ready for them? Inclusive Education – what is it about?

Last week, I was on twitter searching for some news about inclusive education, when I came across #neurotribe a best seller book written by Steve Silberman  who is explaining in a very fascinating perspective about autism. In fact, I am still reading his book and  I agree with some statements on it and,  others that I reckon, we have a long road to investigate as well. It is a book that I highly recommend for Educators and Teachers – It is really worth taking some time and read it.  12970478_10201729580837903_692683208_o

Meanwhile, I was preparing a lesson, to adapt some social skills for three SEN students in a regular classroom. I was wondering why it is so difficult to adapt a lesson that includes social skills (socialization.). Most of the time, the problem is not SEN students but how students (in general) will accept them. That is the moment that we have to raise awareness to accept these new issue in our schools (in other words – What is autism or Dyslexia or ADHD? (Awareness) and How can we learn together? (Acceptance).

Thus, They have to create the rules together and emphasize that they will use them during the school year. This inclusive project might help all the students to understand how they can have fun, learn and interact with all kind of people everywhere else. That is what an inclusive enviromnent does and it is possible to achieve one, if we are ready for it.

One of the materials that I have read for my MA project in inclusive education, it was this guideline from Unesco Bangkok. Our Educational system has to bring up new forms to engage our students. Education means acquisition of knowledge and teachers may interpret education as means for creation a new inclusive society so that, put into practice  these  ideas, projects might bring children with disabilities in our regular classrooms. Although we have many publications and researches about inclusive education, we have been faced bureaucracy and the continued neglect of their right to education. It is sad to see that many children are taken away from school, because of the lack of interest, investment and good will.

To sum up, we have to be aware of the diversity of dialogue and development. Every citizen has the right to learn and live in a more inclusive society. All of  us have our differences and respect each other, it is our best choice to survive in this world. So, it is not only AWARENESS but also ACCEPTANCE… One coin, two faces in an inclusive world.

 

 

 

 

Easter Project – Celebrating Beatrix Potter

“Once upon a time there were four little bunnies and their names were – Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter” 

Easter with Peter Rabitt

Hello There,

This month we set up a project at school for Young Learners and each grade will be working with children’s literature, including Beatrix Potter’s tales. This year is celebrating her 150th birth anniversary. Beatrix Potter wrote bucolic tales about bunny rabbits. Thus, I have decided to engage my small group of young learners through Peter Rabbit story and, it is also Easter time. We will celebrate it according to our traditions and with fluffy bunnies full of chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday hunt as well.

Anyway, I grew up listening many tales from many part of the world. My mother used to teach English in her free time in a school nearby our home, and I still remember her preparing some lessons. Most of the time late at night after helping me with my homework. One of the books that she used to read for me before bed time was Peter Rabbit – a small golden book that she bought before entering at the University. It was not new but full of memories from its previous owner and she still keeps it on her shelf.

Time passed by and nowadays, I am an english teacher with the same passion that once she was and of course, full of resources that she could not have imagined that one day, it would be possible to use them in a regular class. Thus, I asked for her help and showed  my lesson plan about Peter Rabbit. She seemed surprised to find the lesson planning about the story that she used to read when I was a little girl. Actually, We had such a great time laughing and preparing the lesson together.

peter rabbit

So here it is our lesson: 

Let’s meet Peter Rabbit –  

I will work with this paper book or  if you prefer an e-book version, it is available for free on IOS or Android platforms. It will be a nice time for them learning a new language by stories. Moreover, storytelling is a magical moment for kids in general. As a mother, I really know how powerful telling a story for a kid can help them to develop their emotion and imagination. Children’s minds began to inquire, wonder, think when we (parents, teachers,  storytellers…) start telling stories.

The reason of this lesson is to give a motivating reason for English-language learners to speak and write. Even though our meeting occurs twice in 45-min class per week, They will be exposed and stimulated to interact with the whole classroom using the new vocabulary in a ludic way.  As you can see in the picture below, we can explore activities in many possibilities to engage them learning through12443352_10201601051104740_1415896566_o their contents – for instance numbers (one – two – three) opposites (little and big) family members (mother, brother, sister), prepositions (in, on, under) food ( vegetables) and feelings (kindness, behavior and on).

Besides, you can engage them to create their own stories, using another kind of animal (cat, dog or  pig), they can reread the story and collaborating for their
portifolio project. So that, they will develop even more the four skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) which have been exploring in pairs during the classes.

After you have introduced them the story and explored the target language. Finally, you can use this video to check whether they achieved the goals you had set up previously. This is the moment for sense of achievement. I usually do this at the end of the class to measure if they assimulate the new vocabulary and some grammar points.

Therefore, the main goal of this project is to engage them to have fun toward their own pace, supporting each other to collaborate and giving them feedback to improve their confidence to learn a new language.

Many people might think that teaching children is easy, a piece of cake. However, teaching kids goes beyond telling stories and playing around. They will carry with them, the stories that caught their attention, which made them dream and co-participate for the rest of their lifes. Nevertheless to say that, stories can build our personalities, shape our future and make us a better person. To sum up, all languages have their own stories like every culture and every human being… 

Here there are some links that might help you to engage your classroom with Beatrix Potter’s 150th anniversary. 

The Peter Rabbit Coin – The Guardian

The Letter for a young correspondent – The Guardian

Beatrix Potter  – Twitter full of articles about her 150th celebration

The Tales of Peter Rabbit – You Tube

Stick Tale – Pinterest and BookTime

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love is in the air… Valentine’s Day ideas

When Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.
(Love’s Labour’s Lost, 4.3 – Shakespeare)

 

Hello There,

I have been away for a while. In fact, it was vacation time and next week our school year will start again. So, I decided to create some activities based on Valentine’s Day and I would like to share with you a couple of ideas that will engage some groups of teens and adults classes as well.

This year Valetine’s day will be on Sunday and of course these ideas could have been used previsously during the week. However, in Brazil it was Carnival Time and some schools will return next Monday. It can be a nice way to work as a warm-up or icebreakers activities. In addition to, this year we are celebrating Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary. It is such a nice time to introduce a glimpse of love to some students who have never heard about Shakespeare masterpieces.

First of all, I suggest you give them some hints about this lovely day. As some students from Brazil may not know why Valentine’s day are so popular in UK or USA or maybe some other countries celebrate it in another time of the year. It is very helpful bring to them videos or small texts explaining about this famous celebration.

For example in Brazil, we do not celebrate it in February – It is on 12th June (before Saint Anthony celebration – a Portuguese Heritage). Thus, here it is a wonderful video in which you can work with some interesting facts about Valentine’s day 

Another kind of activity you can engage the whole group is using found poetry from a text. It can be from a newspaper, a page of a book,

hidden poetry

credit photo – Pinterest

magazine and so on. This one will be very challenging and they can work in pairs on it.  I have done this twice with a group and they simply loved it!

You can use this picture as an example of what you want them to do. In this activity, they are now ‘writers’.  You can scaffolding  by listening to or observing them. Moreover,  you can not take control of the activity. If you do so, it will turn the idea into a boring exercise and they will give up.

It demands a couple of minutes. At the end of their creativity process, they can read their poetry aloud or exchange within their classmates.

You can use a text from Romeo and Juliet or Midsummer Night’s dream from some well-known Readers (select the level you are teaching) It is not difficult for teens levels though. Some of these classical books have turned recently into movies and, they will recognize easily the plot.

Do not worry whether some students are afraid of reading Shakespeare. Unfortunaly, the language issues is the top notch caution. We teachers know that, it is for sure not easy task – there are lots of  vocabulary and language structures in which they have never heard about; or maybe someone has told them that it is extremely hard job for basic and intermediate students read Shakespeare books.

Therefore, we have to expose them to these classical books and with their enigmatical words to delight his poetry, narratives and on. Otherwise, They will never figure out that some of the words that we have today came from him and that English language owes a lot to Shakespeare works.

What about music? Valentine’s day without music, come on. Bring a song and ask them to sing along and filling the gaps contest. I reckon this season will be Adele – Hello?!. Well, Well, here you can find some songs to work with your classes from teens to adults.

Finally, you can engage the whole classroom without exposing themselves. I really do not like the idea of exchange cards or writing a love letter. It is something very personal and we have to keep in mind that our students have to be comfortable to join the activity. Nowadays, because the high level of bullying incidents, I have decided not take these kind of activities into classes. I reckon when we taylor-made materials or activities, we have to be sensible and put ourselves in the students shoes. Using some kind of activities that will not engage the whole group may be avoiding and, some of these ideas will not contribuiting in their learning process at all.

Needless to say that, there will be some studens that might argue with you  “Why do they have to learn this kind of stuff”. Try to explain them that when we learn a language, we are exposed to its culture. So we can not separate these two important and valuable issues. There is no language without its culture or vice-versa.

So, I hope these ideas can help you!  Thanks for dropping by  and I wish you a happy Valentine’s day full of chocolate and love.

 

 

Credit photo : https://br.pinterest.com/pin/251990541626793645/

 

 

 

Inclusive Education -Breaking Barriers

The world needs all kinds of minds” – Temple Grandin

Hello There,

Today is the international day of persons with disabilities and it is not an ordinary day to remember their rights but also a day to reflect what we have done to include millions of people around the globe in our society and also in our classroom.

First of all, Do we really know what means inclusion? I looked for some definitions and according to Oxford dictionary is the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.

After this definition, I tried to focus on educational issues, in which my research is focusing on incluisve education. Most of the time, we are not ready to include our students with disabilities in regular classes. Interviewing and observing some teachers and classrooms in Brazil, I have to say that it is a long road to get there.

Although we have technologies, methodologies and theories to improve our teaching skills, we still have a huge gap, when it comes to include our students in our schools.

And whether you think, it is a merely problem in Brazil, sorry but you are wrong! It is not only in the brazilian schools but also around the world.  I had the opportunity to give a webinar at eTwinning Inclusive Education Group  where we discussed about inclusive education and, I got surprised at some teachers and educators do not know how to teach children with special needs in Europe.

In addition to, they have to teach them and deal with students’ diffuculties by their own without any support from school. Fortunately, internet is helping us to improve and develop ourselves with many other teachers, who can share their experiences within inclusive classroom. So, #etwinning is one of these groups which is contribuiting to support teachers from EU.

 Moreover, the importance of an inclusive education goes beyond our classrooms, it goes beyond educational issues, curriculum and so on. We have to bare in mind that is a fundamental human right.

Therefore, why not a curriculum in which will eliminate barriers and include all kind of minds, where our students will be assessed  not only by tests or exams but also by  portfolios, projects and abilities. These are the cornerstone of Universal Design for Learning. This kind of curriculum has overcome some myths, such as that special needs students can not learn or can not be included in a regular classroom.

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they can learn” – Ignacio Estrada

Nevertheless, It is the right time to discuss and reflect about inclusive education. Break Barriers and open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all according to United Nations in 2013.

To sum up,  I would like to suggest you, these two webinars discussing about Inclusive Education. Here they are:

 

 

inclusive quotes.jpg

credit:thinkinclusive.us

 

sources:

United Nation – http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1515
Universal Design Curriculum  https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/08/12/importance-universal-design-learning
Oxford Dictionary – http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/inclusion
#etwinning -https://groups.etwinning.net/7623/welcome
Think inclusive – http://www.thinkinclusive.us/
IATEFL – http://www.iatefl.org/web-events/iatefl-webconference

 

 

Online Development – Go for it!

Hello There,

In this post, I’d like to share how online professional development can improve your teaching skills. It is possible to connect to the world easily today through internet, where you can find what you need just by clicking.  I have been doing some great courses and also attending a few e-conferences in many countries. I reckon we can learn even more.

Actually, I would never have enough money to travel or attend all these great courses and webinars that I have experienced during these years. One of theses experiences, I have met many good people that nowadays are good friends of mine. Being inspired by wonderful educators are the top of the list and, courses offered by well-known universities increase the opportunity to improve my curriculum and boost my career as well. 

My first online experience was in 2013, since then I have never stopped. I did not have an idea what it was an webinar.  Back then, I still have good memories of this marvelous webinar deliveried by Vicky Loras. She gave us an idea of what it is Professional Development. I still have some notes from that day and put some of them into practice.

Then, I decided to participate in a group of teachers in Brazil called BrELT  . On BrELT, I have met some awesome teachers across Brazil to discuss about ELT, EFL, Brazilian Educational System, Conferences and so on. Today we are more than 7650 teachers all over the world. At first it was only on Twitter, today we are on twitter, wordpress, youtube and facebook. We share every single day articles about education, ideas, interviews and our own webinars. So, with these fantastic experiences online, I started looking for some online courses.

One day, chatting with a good friend of mine Rose Bard, she told me about iTDi a group of educators where their motto is “iTDi for teachers by teachers”. I did three fabulous courses in which I have engaged more effectively my students and colleagues as well. It is not expensive and you can help another teacher who can not afford for it!  Actually, it was also there where I met some of my PLNs friends (Personal Learning Network) whether you may not know what is it, I suggest you take a look on this post by Barbara Sakamoto. When we have a great group of PLN, we can feel the power of togetherness (we learn together without prejudice and full of gratitude).

Nevertheless to say that some great Universities open their courses wordle-languages-importance-statement22to us in some platforms. Two of these platforms are at Future Learn or at Cousera  where you can enroll for free courses from famous Universities.  Free development for everyone and everywhere else without any cost. Well, I have to say that nowadays we can improve ourselves at home or anywhere else!

Moreover, webinars and web-conferences are available almost every month, for example Moodle Mooc 7  hosted by Dr. Nellie Deutsch with 40 webinars by educators worldwide this month. (If you can not watch it live, you can catch up with the recording).

And, why not start blogging. Writing a blog can bring to you some insights about your own journey through Professional Development. When I decided to blog, I started sharing my ideas, thoughts and reflections as a teacher and also as a learner. One of the blogs that I have read recently about PD, it was by Sandy Millin where she explores the ELT point of view of PD.

So now every time, when someone asks you “what do you do on Facebook or Twitter all the time?” you can say “I am learning with many friends around the globe and of course having fun!”

I hope you can develop yourself with these suggestions.

Sources: Links

Itdi  – http://itdi.pro/itdihome/index.php

Vicky Loras – http://www.lorasnetwork.com/

BrELT – https://breltchat.wordpress.com

Rose Bard – https://rosebardeltdiary.wordpress.com/

Barbara Sakamoto – http://www.teachingvillage.org/2012/01/03/what-is-a-pln-anyway/

Future Learn – https://www.futurelearn.com/

Coursera – https://pt.coursera.org/about/partners

Moodle Mooc 7 – http://www.wiziq.com/online-class/3187724-mm7-moodle-resources-for-active-learning

Sandy Millin – https://sandymillin.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/the-online-professional-development-survey-longer-answers/

Photo credit: https://lizfotheringham.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/wordle-languages-importance-statement22.jpg

Knowledge – Action: Paulo Freire

“Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion.”  Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Hello There,

Early this morning, I was reading some posts on Facebook, when I saw a post about Paulo Freire’s birthday. I can say that he is one of my heroes in Education. I was delighted to read such a great letter that he wrote some years ago for “Teachers and Educators in Brazil”. Although some people do not agree with his words, his thougths and theories still echoing in our society.

I was wondering what would have happened if I have never met his words. Peharps, I might not be the teacher who I am today. Peharps, my critical thinking would not be so intense or I would be there doing my job and nothing else.

I met Paulo Freire a long time ago. Actually, I heard about him, believe or not, during a course in the church, to be more especific at Catholic Church in a group of study in 1991. I was preparing myself to work with a group of catholic youth. In this course, we were supposed to read some texts select by our priest from National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB) and one of the texts, it was called The virtue of the Educator. (This is in portuguese, no english version available, sorry). A small booklet in which helped us to understand what was the role of a teacher. That time, I was not interested in Paulo Freire’s words. I read and shared my opinion full of shyness, I didn’t have that time a critical view about education, in addition to “Teaching” was not my option as my future career. As the world turns, three year later, I was totally lost in a classroom. I was supposed to teach without no background and no support. That was the trigger to give up teaching.

paulo freire

In 1997, I was attending Greek and Latin classes at the University as part of my BA degree in Classical Language, I remember my Professor talking about our teaching practices. It was in a monastery downtown Rio de Janeiro, where we used to teach both disciplines for high school students and, we were supposed to read a book called ” Pedagogy of Oppressed” and write a report comparing our practices with his theory. It was the moment that, I understood what Paulo Freire meant about an oppressive education.

We live in a society where education is not taken seriously, where we still have many kids out of schools. Educators and teachers are not treated with respect, where politicians do not care about our educational system and our students are not taught to be critical thinkers.His words seems to be obsolete, an act of subversion and revolutionary. However, in my humble opinion, it is the words of freedom and solidarity. We can not construct learning without sharing and without practicing.

So, today it is a day to remember, a day to reflect what is our position as educators. Do not be afraid of putting his words into practices, do not betray yourself using education for business but using education as a weapon to transform the world into a better place to live and worthy to fight for.

I dedicate this short post to my hero – Paulo Freire and for those who dare to spread his words of wisdom.

12047737_10201113003343851_489644714_n (@pmateini)

These books are the cornerstone of my MA project on Inclusive Education.

Sources:

https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/915602-pedagogia-do-oprimido

http://www.acervo.paulofreire.org:8080/jspui/

http://www.freire.org/pope-discusses-literacy-dignity-with-widow-of-paulo-freire

Observe to learn

keep-calm-it-s-a-lesson-observation-2

Hello there,

I was preparing a presentation for a group of teachers when I came across the word “observe”. I stopped and remembered how many times I had been observed by teachers, coordinators, trainers and so on. During 2 years, the institution where I used to teach never sent someone to observe my classes, so I had free reign for a while. However, I used to follow the coursebook exactly how the teacher’s guide asked me to and, even worse, I had no idea that I was completely lost and alone on this road called “teaching”.

In a given moment of my presentation, I asked the teachers to close their eyes and visualize a person in a crowded classroom. In this room there were lots of people from many parts of the country, talking about their ideas and expectations. Then, I asked them to imagine an unprepared and insecure teacher. After that, they opened their eyes. This activity took three minutes at least. The three minutes were over and that’s when I told them the person I asked them to visualize was myself in 2009, (feeling uncertain about being observed.)

When I decided to teach, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. Actually, many people think that. I have some “good” friends that once told me something like, “You don’t work, look around, you listen to music all the time, watch tv series and party.” Well, if they knew exactly how many nights I have gone to bed at 4 o’clock to prepare “wicked awesome” lesson plans for 8 o’clock morning classes, they would reconsider that.  It’s not that easy!

In fact, this talk was to help them to improve themselves to learn by observing. Not observing my talk, but each other.

There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing and be nothing” Aristotle

I started asking my coordinator about observations, because I realized that something was wrong with their attitude. No one in two years had appeared in my classes. What shocked me was her awful answer, “You don’t need to be observed, you are quite good and all your students like you, no one has complained about you. Actually, I can’t waste my time doing this.”  Perhaps she thought I should be flattered after that answer. However, I felt like a complete idiot. So to have someone observe my class, there was only one way: have a student  go to the coordinator’s room and complain about me. Mmm, quite interesting, don’t you think!? This was not for me, and I quit my “job” then. At that time, I was doing my post-graduation on English Studies, and I was feeling very insecure about my “English”.  Actually, I was totally confused about languages. I had finished my Linguistic studies in Barcelona where I had to learn Spanish from the beginning. Portuguese was interfering a lot in the process. It was pretty hard but I survived! That time, when I came back to University, I really understood what it was walking in my students’ shoes (when my Adult students try to explain how they feel about learning a new language, I can really relate.) It is tough and demands all of our attention and dedication.

Thus, the time had come to  quit the “school”. Some could say that I was in heaven, in my comfort zone, with nothing to worry about, but it was not for me – I love sharing and learning. I cannot live isolated!

Moreover, I got a place in another institution and, during my trainee period, I had to observe some classes of many levels, so that I learned about the methodology and how I had to apply it in my lesson plans. Frequently, a Mentor or Coordinator came to my classes  to observe my interaction with my students, creativity, procedures and so on. Then, we had a moment in which they gave me some feedback. It was a nice cycle of learning and sharing. No judgment, no shame! It was something very close to what I was looking for.

When I finished my story, I asked the teachers in the room to look at the board and read the definition of the verb OBSERVE

‘If you observe a person or thing, you watch them carefully, especially

in order to learn something about them”

(Cobuild Advanced Leaner’s Dictionary)

Then, we step into our field – SEN. When we teach children with special needs, we have to be prepared to understand how they feel when someone is observing their classes. Most of them do not feel comfortable. They will avoid contact, perharps they will leave the room or they will not have any formality to ask, “Who are you?”  “What are you doing here?” or “Teacher, who is this lady?”. A good suggestion is, if you are dealing with this kind of student, prepare them before the visitor comes to your class. You can say something like, “Next week, we will have a person in our classroom. She is a teacher like me and she will be here learning with us. Please, guys, do not forget, this is really important to us.” I assure you they will not forget and they will be waiting for the person. Explaining what is going to happen is  the the best choice for all of us. In addition to, the same situation may happen to our “regular”  students –  3 possibilities might appear in some observations:

#1  They will talk to each other, whispering, “Who is he or she?” That is the best day of our class. If for a miracle they are not noisy , they become the best class ever…

#2 If they are shy, they will be even more shy.

#3 If they are very young learners, they will look at you and say, “I like you, but I prefer Teacher…” most of the time…

Another suggestion: take a couple of minutes and read this fabulous post by Vicky Loras

To finish up, be observed or observe a special classroom or a traditional one! It is a great time to learn and share with great educators and teachers. Most of the time, our students enjoy the moment and some of them give us support that we can never imagine. In all observations, I could have done my best but we have to keep it in mind that we are not robots and mistakes are welcome to in our classes and our lives. “We live, we learn.”