Friday, October 29, 2010

Teaching points from the monks

Discussions with the monks is fascinating as well as challenging.  So early on, I asked the monks what they wanted to learn.

Pronunciation was number one, followed by conversational English, ideoms, American culture, fluency, and a little help with writing.  That's a lot of pack into a two month course!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lesson Planning!

I've put a lot of time into writing lesson plans for this University teaching assignment.  My little ThinkPad laptop computer has been a fantastic resource for instructional materials, strategies, short stories and so forth.

Burning the midnight oil, as I search the internet for ideas to keep my Univerisity monk students engaged, excited and enthusiastic about this "Special English Conversation Class."

Lesson Outline
1.  Greet students

 Outline this lesson's objectives and how I'll use of timer for activities. Using the timer keeps equity for all, and when it goes off, the bell notes that students should complete their sentence and focus back on me. Beats my having to call out each time to get students' attention!
2.  Review of last lesson:

My posing questions to students and in the process, checking for understanding, pronunciation, grammer, etc.

3.  Grouping for conversation

Explain that I will use one dice to randomly identify a group by the alphabet letter, and one dice to call either on monk 1, 2, or 3 to respond to questions I ask.  Part of CFU process.
A.  Three monks per group. Monks decide who is number 1, number 2, and number 3. 
B.  Give each group a letter from the alphabet.
C.  Check for understanding for groups and numbers.  Group C monk 2.... ask question or Group H monk 3.
4.  Bellwork

Use "Think-Pair-Share"
A. Give a copy of the days bellwork sheet to Monk # 1 in each group. 
B. Monk # 1 reads the problem to his group. The others listen and do not speak.
C. Monk # 2 then retells the problem to Monk # 3, followed by Monk # 3 retelling the problem to Monk 2.

Group E and Monk number 3 will be called on to answer the question.

 D. Use roll of alphabet dice to choose groups to anwer problem. Two to three groups called.

5.  Dolch Sight words:

Hand out a copy of list to each student. Total of 220 words, five lists.  Will work on one list per class.
A. # 1 reads first list, then #2 reads same list, then #3.
B Ask which words difficult to pronounce. Model if problems and practice with whole class.
6.  Difficult words to pronounce

(list identified from Internet from ELL students responding to Facebook, Twitter, etc. asking for list of the most difficult words) Total of 25 words, and sentences.  Each sheet has 8 words/phrases.
A. I read the word and phrase.  Have students repeat after me.
B. By group:  students practice.  1 reads 1; 2 reads 2, etc.  Then switch, 1 reads # 2, 2 reads # 3 and 3 reads #1.
C. Model how to write new sentence. CFU
D. By goup:  allow think time; have students write new sentences using the difficult words; then by group, read their new sentences.
E. Class:  CFU using dice to identify group and student to read their new sentences.
7.  Ideoms

(about 8 new ones per class period) Give one copy to each student of handout. 
A. I read the sentences.  Give the meaning of the word. Students
B. Call on monks to pronounce certain words. Go through whole list.
C. Group:  read the phrases to each other.
D.  I show how to make a new sentence.  Groups  make new sentences and read to each other.
8.  Three way conversation from a script.
A.  I read each sentence.  Students just listen.
Ask student if they do not understand any   word(s)
Ask students if they want me to read it a second time.
B.  Allow students to read / practice in their group.
Change order of students, so monk 3 reads part 1, monk 1 part 3, and monk 3 reads part 2.  Allow time to practice.
C. Choose group to come in front and read.
9.  Reciprical reading
A.  Explain process:  monk # 1 reads, monk #2 predicts what may happen next, monk #3 draws a picture to summerize what was just read.
B.  Model example :  hand out short story as example for students to follow and understand.
C.  Group practice: hand out new short story of example
1.  Start with paragraph # 1:  read, predict; picture
2.  Have group members explain to each other.
3.  Dice call on group and number to a) summarize, b) predict and c) show the whole class the picture.
Repeat the same exercise for remaiing paragraphs.
10.  Review today's lesson
A.  Roll dice and call on alphabetical group and monk 1, 2 or 3.  Or roll dice for monk 1, 2, or 3 to tell his group the answer.

After all this planning...... what have I got to say........

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teaching Sophmores at the Buddhist University

My second class at the Buddhist University has more than 30 students!  30 very enthusiastic students I might add!

"Think-Pair-Share" worked very well with this class, as I asked students to practice their English conversation skills  based on my direct instruction.  This strategy allowed me to move throughout the classroom monitoring and providing assistance to all the pairs.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Introducing myself to the University monks!

During my first meetings with my new students at the Buddhist University, I used the occasion to introduce myself.  I explained to the monks how I grew up on a farm where we had no bathroom in the house, and no hot running water.

What shocked the monks most was when I told them I could take a bath only once a week.  Thai take baths twice a day!  I explained to the monks that my whole family used the same bath water, starting with my mom, then my two sisters, followed by me, then my two older brothers and last.... my dad. The monks all laughed when I told them how black the water was by the time everyone had taken a bath!

Using the "Think-Pair-Share" method, I drew pictures of my life story on the white board as I talked about my life.  The monks they retold this same story to each other.  Great technique to get students talking.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mahachulalongkarnrajavidyalaya University in Chiang Mai

Today was my first day of teaching Level 4 monks at the Buddhist University in Chiang Mai.  Level or grade 4 is similar to being a junior at a university in the USA.

Some individual work by the monks, as I asked them to individually brainstorm what they wanted to accomplish during this special English conversation class.

Since this is a conversational English class, I used a great deal of the "Think, Pair, Share" Instructional Stategy technique.  While telling the monks about myself through words and pictures I drew, the monks then took turns retelling each other through their drawings and words, what I had just said.

Written English with its Roman letters, is so very different from written Thai, which to the untrained eye looks like a series of squiggle lines and circles.
By moving throughout the classroom, I was able to listen in to the monks' English, and provide on-the-spot input.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Good Bye Laos .... for now anyway.....

Today I leave Laos for Thailand, where I will begin teaching English to Buddhist monks at a university in Chiang Mai tomorrow. 

This has been an excellent trip for me, as I have learned about potential volunteer opportunites in Laos.  Now the next phase can begin of matching the expansion plan details, with the realities in the field, with the idea of helping the people of Laos by opening new volunteer opportunities in this country.

From the Bizzare to the Unreal - 500 monk morning alms walk

The monks seeking morning alms is a solemn, verging on sacred Buddhist ritual.  I wonder how any of us would feel, if during one of our most sacred ceremonies,  complete strangers invaded our space and began snapping photos?

The monks share what little food they receive durng their morning alms walk, with these young boys who come from extremely poor families in Luang Prabang.  Personally, I had never seen this before..... young children holding plastic bags to get food from the monks.

Lao Buddha figure

That Phousy

Over three hundred steps to the shrine on top of the hill in Luang Prabang

I'd been advised to climb all those steps either in the early morning or late afternoon.  I choose the afternoon and even then the swet just poured off my head!

At the beginning of the walk up, an old temple, the walls covered with murals painted in the 1860s.
Having never been restored, these old murals are in very good shape.

After more than 300 steps, I reached my goal ....... the golden stupa, illuminated by the setting sun.


Villa Senesouk

The guest house where I stayed, was located in the historic part of Luang Prabang.  My room was on the ground level on the far left end of the building.

Large, very comfortable bed, with the bathroom off to the left.

All the comforts of home..... A/C, cable T.V., refrigerator, writing area..... main entry door behind the T.V. and bathroom door to the left of the bed.

Elephant Village - Laos

Part of my research in Luang Prabang included my looking for volunteer opportunities at elephant camps.  In the literature I found about the Elephant Village, I noticed they had volunteers assisting this project.

So I hired a driver, and off I went in search of the Elephant Village.  The scenery was spectacular as we drove over dustry dirt roads for about 40 minutes to get to the Elephant Village.

As I walked through the main door to the Elephant Village, I was amazed by the village! 

A few thatched roofed buildings, on a carpet of well trimmed grass. The main building in the center was a meeting point for general information as well as buyig tickets to ride the elephants.  A DVD was playing, giving information about the Village. 

To the left and behind the main large building, the Elephant Hospital, where one elephant was being treated for a leg wound.

The Nam Khan River flowed past the Elephant Village, allowing the Village guests to ride the elephants through the water.

Three thatched buildings, were one could sit and relax, had been built near the edge of the river.

The elephant feeding station, where for a few dollars, one can buy green bananas and feed them to the elephants.

The oldest elephant, Mae Cot, and I were born in the same year.  So it was a must that I buy my this grand old lady some bananas and give them to her.

Mae Cot accepted the bananas with grace, and rather than grabbing them with her trunk, perfered that I place them directly in her mouth.  She was blind in her right eye, so I stood and fed her on her left.  Oh how gentil she was!

As I wandered around the Elephant Village, I had the good fortune of meeting the young German man who helps manage the Village.  He told me that indeed they do have volunteers from time-to-time, and could use some extra hands to help him in the office with the marketing of the program.  So will see as we continue to look at the overall volunteer progam, how the Elephant Village might fit into this picture.

Tomb of Henri Mouhot

On my way back from the Elephant Village, my driver stopped to show me a rather fascinating point of interest.

Deep in the Laos jungle, is the final resting place of Henri Mouhot .... the French explorer who "discovered" the famed Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia.  The white tomb can be seen, surrounded by the lush green vegetation.

At the young age of 35, Henri died of malaria while exploring Laos.

Even by today's standards, the final resting place of Henri Mouhot  is way off the beaten track. Hard to imagine what traveling through the hot, humid  jungle 150 years ago must have been like.  To say nothing of getting deathly ill with malaria.... Henri's final entry in his journal asked God to have mercy on him.....

Where did my money go?

This photo copy sign was posted next to an ATM machine in Luang Prabang.


A World Heritage City - Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage City in 1995  A walk around this old French colonial city, quickly told me why this honor was given to Luang Prabang.  It is indeed a very unique place in Asia.

Luang Prabang from the hill in the center of town.

Many of the buildings are constructed from this beautiful red wood found in Laos.

A beautiful restaurant on the banks of the river.

The sidewalks are all made out of baked red brick and are in perfect condition.

The red brick walkways along side the houses formed little alley ways to get from one block to the other.

The streets are wide, clean and have very little traffic.

Great places, throughout the city, to sit, have a cup of strong Laotian coffee, and watch the world go by.

Luang Pragang is surrounded by jungle and mountains.