Friday, 30 December 2016

Most read blog posts of 2016

Looking back on 2016, I published 25 blog posts on different teaching-related topics ranging from lesson plans, teaching ideas and  professional devolopment to different teaching statistics. Here are the top 5 most-visited ones. 
  1. It's Christmas time ...
  2. Autumn and young learners
  3. Angleščina v prvi triadi OŠ v številkah (Slovene only)
  4. Upcoming workshops, seminars and webinars
  5. Describing a person: MY TEACHER

And here's the most viewed post on My Slo English Classroom Facebook page: Tongue Twisters in my classroom. That's it from me for 2016. See you next year! 

Saturday, 17 December 2016

It's Christmas time ...

It's that time of the year again. Joyful and happy, stressful and hectic. There's much more going on in school and somehow you have to balance that with your just-as-eventful private life. Somehow find time for everything. Add to that students with their minds already on holidays (if they're in school at all) and there you have it: the joy of teaching in December. Whatever you think of Christmas time, one thing is for sure: your ordinary lesson plans just won't do. Here's what I did/will be doing with my students this December:

First and second graders
  • The snowflake quiz

This lesson plan comes from Super Simple Learning and my youngest seem to love it. What we did was sing the Little Snowflake song, make paper snowflakes and competed in a Snowflake Quiz (the Falling snowflakes activity). The latter  is not only fun, but also a great way to revise vocabulary before assessing.

  • Christmas games

Even though I'm sure there are special Christmas games for children out there, I took the simple way out and just adopted some of the games I normally play with my students and gave them a holiday theme. For example, we often play Simon Says with my students but in December we play Santa Says. Instead of Spiders and Candy we play Grinch and Presents. We do the Freeze Dance to Christmas songs. You get the idea.

  • Christmas songs

Personally, I don't think it's always reasonable to teach traditional Christmas carols with complex lyrics and obsolete language at this level. But since most of my students are already familiar with the most famous ones, I decided to focus on two of the most famous Christmas songs anyway: We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Jingle Bells. I did choose slightly modified versions, however. As for the first one, I only teach the chorus (see my favourite version by Maple Leaf Learning HERE), and as for the second one, the Happy Street version is just perfect.

  • A letter to Father Christmas

My first and second graders don't write in English yet. What they can do, however, is either draw or cut and paste pictures of different kinds of toys they want for Christmas on a sheet of paper and then "read" their letters to one another. 

There are loads of Christmas catalogues from different shops, why not make use of them?

Here's the amount of catalogues I was given by the friendly staff at Müller Ljubljana.

  • Reading Christmas storybooks
My favourite ones include: Father Christmas (Playway to English 1 story cards), Rudolph The Red-Nosed ReindeerPeppa's Christmas and Peppa's Christmas Wish (also available as Youtube videos), The Mitten (My Fairyland 1 story cards) and others. Find more HERE or HERE

  • Making Christmas cards

You just cannot get through December without making Christmas cards. But one thing's for sure: I'm not writing them by hand this year! Here are some ideas for Christmas card designs:

Made by my first graders with my humble assistance

Made by students from our school for our Christmas Bazaar

As for older students, we're on a much tighter curriculum and testing takes place right after holidays so if you want to have Christmas lessons, you just have to find a way to incorporate them into whatever language goals you're dealing with at that moment. This is how I do it:

Fourth graders
Here's where we can finally write some real letters to Father Christmas. We're using Happy Street coursebooks and we've just finished discussing toys. Also, letter writing is one of our main topics this year (we even started a penfriend project with another school, more on this in one of my future posts) so writing a letter to Father Christmas is the obvious next step. Instead of posting them, we'll pin them around the classroom for Father Christmas - and everyone else - to see. Not that any of the students in fourth grade still believe in Father Christmas, but they do like getting their work exhibited around the classroom.

Sixth graders
There are two language goals we're currently dealing with that I managed to squeeze into my Christmas lessons: location (There is/are + prepositions of place) and the Present Simple Tense. 

The first one is easy. All you have to do is place different festive objects around the classroom and leave it to the students to describe their location. To make it more fun, you can hide the objects and play a little Hide-and-seek or guessing games. Who says grammar has to be dull?

Now that we covered the location part with Christmas games, it's time for Present Simple. We're doing that with a Christmas song and with a little help from my friend Mariah Carey. Yes, it's All I Want For Christmas. And why not? The first part is full of Present Simple examples and there's plenty of things you can do with it: gap fills, rewriting the song in the third person singular, writing your own similar songs etc. And since the second part of the song is rich with Future Simple, that makes it perfect for older students as well. For more ideas of working with music lyrics, see on of my previous posts.

Here's my friend Mariah. There's also a version of this song with Justin Bieber if you think your students would like it. And of course, the ever adorable Love Actually version!

Eighth graders
We're discussing charity and if that doesn't scream Christmas, I don't know what does. I found some great Christmas charity resources on and if you want to take a sneak peek, you can find the teacher code for their materials HERE

Ninth graders
We're dealing with national cuisines and we've just started to discuss the passive voice. You know there's only one thing we can do here, right? That's right, Christmas recipes! We'll write them in the passive voice: first in the present passive to describe the recipe and then the past passive to explain how they'd done it. And maybe they could even bring proof they'd actually done it to the classroom? :)

So here you have it - my festive season survival plan. For more ideas, see some of my previous posts on Christmas/winter lessons: CLICK, CLICK nad CLICK.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Autumn and young learners

Not only is autumn a gorgeous season, it's also incredibly rich with language teaching topics and resources. I already covered my Halloween lessons extensively. Here are some other autumn activities I did with my young learners:

  • Ten Little Indians
After singing the Ten Little Indians song, we made paper headbands in autumn colours and turned into Indians ourselves. We had so much fun producing loud Indian war cries!

Four little Indian boys

  • Mr. Potato Head
Are you familiar with Mr. Potato Head? After learning the One Potato chant, we did a kind of a Maths activity that was used for building Mr. Potato Head. Here's how you do it. I did make a slight adjustment, though. I replaced the Mr. Potato Head pieces with the ones below which I found on Pinterest as those suited our language goals better.

Hello, Mr. Potato head!

  • Counting autumn leaves and sorting them by size and colour

  • Arts and crafts
I stole this photo - and the idea - from my friend Alenka who's always been great with young learners. Many thanks!

I also recommend THIS Facebook page for arts and crafts ideas. The teachers sharing their crafts there are incredibly creative.

  • Autumn food tasting
... is something I'm planning for next year as I just didn't have time to squeeze it in. Well, there's always next year - and next autumn!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Upcoming workshops, seminars and webinars

Never pass a chance for professional development! Here are some upcoming seminars/webinars, lots of them free of charge:

For more course announcements, also follow my Facebook page!

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Throwback Thursday #4

Travelling or professional development? For a language teacher, both! New York City, August 2008.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

International Tongue Twister Day

Happy International Tongue Twister Day! Here's a tongue twister a la moi, level pro. 

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Halloween in my classroom

Once again, it's one of my favourite festivals of the year: Halloween! Here's what we did for Halloween with my young learners:

I recycled my last year's Halloween lesson with my first graders. As they say, don't fix it if it ain't broken! And yet again, the lesson turned out perfect. Here are some photos of this year's Halloween party from our school's website: CLICK

As my second graders had already enjoyed the privilege of the lesson above last year, we changed things a bit. Of course, we kept the trick-or-treating part. But before trick or treating, I told them the Dark Dark Wood story to set the mood. Then we sang the Knock Knock, Trick or Treat song: 

After that
 we had a Maths activity in the form of a pumpkin puzzle with additions and subtractions. I got the idea from the Angleščina v 1. triletju Facebook group - thank you!

I also used the Dark Dark Wood story for my fourth graders as I believe creating the right atmosphere for Halloween is key. Then we did some great activities I found on Bogglesworld. And finally, I took them trick-or-treating around classrooms as well. You think fourth graders find that too childish? Well, think again! In fact, my older students resented me a bit for not taking THEM trick-or-treating too!

Oh, and did I mention we did all of these classroom activities with spooky Halloween music in the background? 

I did do some Halloween themed activities with my older students as well. As it turns out, Slovenians are widely misinformed about Halloween - and regretfully, so are some of the teachers. No, it's not a silly modern American invention. There are plenty of very educational articles and videos available online - here's one. Add a reading/listening comprehension exercise and some vocabulary and you've got yourself a perfect Halloween lesson for teenagers. And not to leave them empty handed, I gave them Halloween candy once they finished with the worksheets.

So another Halloween has gone by ... But we are already looking forward to Christmas!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Sharing is caring #3: MG+

You may remember that I shared the codes to the Mary Glasgow Magazines website the last couple of years. I've had a request to do this again this year so here goes: use w4akjc for teacher pages or owl1 for student pages. You're welcome!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Angleščina v prvi triadi OŠ v številkah

V zadnjih letih se je končno tudi v slovenske osnovne šole uvedlo poučevanje prvega tujega jezika v prvo triado. Po noveli zakona o osnovni šoli se je postopno uvajalo prvi tuji jezik (angleščina ali nemščina) v 2. razred osnovnih šol tako, da se je ta v šolskem letu 2014/2015 uvedel za učence 2. razreda na največ 15 odstotkih šol od skupnega števila osnovnih šol, v šolskem letu 2015/2016 pa še največ 30 odstotkov šol od skupnega števila osnovnih šol. V šolskem letu 2016/2017 se je začel izvajati prvi tuji jezik kot obvezen predmet za vse učence, ki so vpisani v 2. razred. Prvi tuji jezik (prav tako angleščina ali nemščina) pa se je kot neobvezni izbirni predmet v šolskem letu 2015/2016 začel izvajati že v 1. razredu.1 K neobveznemu izbirnemu predmetu se je v šolskem letu 2015/16 vpisalo 86,1% prvošolcev. Večinoma so se učili angleščino, slabe 3% pa nemščino.2

Toliko o dosedanjih statistikah. Ker so me zanimali ažurnejši in obširnejši podatki, sem s pomočjo spletne strani izvedla anketo med učitelji angleščine v prvi triadi. Rezultati ankete so zgolj informativne narave in lahko odstopajo od dejanskega stanja, saj je v anketi sodelovalo le 96 učiteljev in pri naboru anketirancev ne gre za reprezentativen vzorec (večina anketirancev je do spletne ankete dostopalo preko Facebook strani Angleščina v 1. triletju  učitelji). Kljub temu menim, da so rezultati zanimivi za boljšo predstavo, poleg tega pa ugotavljam, da moji dobljeni rezultati za letošnje šolsko leto ne odstopajo bistveno od razpoložljivih uradnih podatkov za lansko šolsko leto.

Najprej si oglejmo nekatere demografske podatke: med učitelji angleščine v prvi triadi močno prevladujejo ženske v starosti 20 – 40 let. Večina je po primarni izobrazbi profesor razrednega pouka z opravljenim modulom za poučevanje angleščine. Med profesorji angleškega jezika ima modul za zgodnje poučevanje opravljenih približno pol. Pri statistikah dodatnega usposabljanja sem upoštevala le javno veljavne študijske programe za usposabljanje iz zgodnjega poučevanja, ali dodatne ali v sklopu bolonjskega študija.

Glavni dejavnik pri odločanju za usposabljanje za zgodnje poučevanje pri anketirancih so bile boljše zaposlitvene možnosti in ne lasten interes, za kar osebno menim, da je zaskrbljujoče, saj lahko vpliva na kakovost rezultata usposabljanja in posledično poučevanja. Razlog za odločitve na podlagi zaposlitvenih možnosti je verjetno tudi plačilo usposabljanja: cene študijskih programov za usposabljanje so štirimestne, plačniki pa v večini primerov (vsaj delno) udeleženci sami. 

*Tu gre za študente bolonjskih programov, ki so modul opravili v sklopu študija, v nekaj primerih pa je bilo kot plačnik navedeno ministrstvo, 

Polovica anketiranih učiteljev se je s poučevanjem angleščine na starostni stopnji prve triade srečevalo že pred uvedbo prvega tujega jezika v prvo triado: največ preko interesne dejavnosti, nekaj pa tudi preko poučevanja na jezikovnih šolah, projektov na OŠ, projektov fakultete v času študija, nadomeščanj itd. (pri vprašanju je bilo možno izbrati več odgovorov).

*Nadomeščanje, Erazmus izmenjava, jezikovni poletni tabori preko fakultete

Velika večina anketiranih učiteljev oz. njihovih učencev v prvi triadi ne uporablja nobenega učbeniškega kompleta, kar se sklada tudi z dejstvom, da za pouk angleščine v prvi triadi trenutno ni potrjen noben učbenik. Kljub temu, da za delovne zvezke potrjevanje ni potrebno, pa se večina učiteljev na tej starostni stopnji ne odloča niti za poučevanje s pomočjo delovnega zvezka. Glede na to, da učni načrt za angleščino v prvi triadi daje poudarek na slušno razumevanje in govorjenje ter da je predvideno interaktivno poučevanje preko iger, zgodb in drugih aktivnosti, se rezultat sklada s pričakovanji.

Večina učiteljev pri poučevanju skladno s priporočili učnega načrta vsaj delno izvaja CLIL tehniko poučevanja, z opismenjevanjem pa začnejo v drugem ali najpogosteje tretjem razredu.

V neobvezni izbirni predmet angleščina v prvem razredu je vpisana velika večina učencev - na večini šol, na katerih poučujejo anketiranci, kar vsi. Angleščina kljub temu večinoma poteka pred ali po rednem pouku, pri izbiri termina pa prednjači 5. šolska ura.

Anketa je vsebovala tudi vprašanje o tem, kakšno mnenje imajo anketiranci o zgodnjem poučevanju angleščine. Žal je bilo prejetih premalo odgovorov na to vprašanje, da bi lahko izluščila merodajne zaključke.

Večina rezultatov ankete se sklada z mojimi pričakovanji. Najbolj me je presenetilo razmerje med učitelji razrednega pouka in učitelji angleščine, saj sem med izvajalci pričakovala precej višji odstotek učiteljev angleščine od dobljenega. Vseeno rezultate do neke mere pripisujem tudi nereprezentativnosti anketiranega vzorca, saj se je pobuda za Facebook skupino Angleščina v 1. triletju - učitelji začela med razrednimi učitelji in je njihova zastopanost v skupini še vedno močnejša. Tudi delež učiteljev, ki pri pouku angleščine v prvi triadi ne uporabljajo učbenika, je ne glede na učni načrt nekoliko višji od pričakovanega, saj je pritisk založb na tem področju občuten. Spodbuden pa je delež vpisanih učencev na neobvezni izbirni predmet angleščina v prvem razredu. Menim celo, da je dovolj visok, da se status izbirnega predmeta odpravi in se angleščino uvede kot obvezni predmet v prvi razred, saj status neobveznega izbirnega predmeta neredko povzroča precej zmede in nepotrebnih komplikacij pri sestavljanju urnika. Pouk angleščine bi bil po mojem mnenju bistveno bolj kakovosten, če ne bi bil obsojen na pete in šeste ure, ko je zmogljivost otrok že precej nižja od maksimalne. Iskreno upam, da se bodo na tem področju naredile tudi uradne raziskave in da se bo status prvega tujega jezika v prvi triadi uredil optimalno za učence.

1 "Pravilnik o postopnem uvajanju prvega tujega jezika v 2. razred osnovne šole." Citirano 23. 10. 2016.

2 Žist, Franja. "Po 19 Letih Spet Bum Prvošolčkov." Citirano 23. 10. 2016.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Anketa o pouku angleščine v prvi triadi

Zanima me, kako poteka pouk angleščine v prvi triadi po slovenskih osnovnih šolah. K reševanju kratke ankete (3 4 min) vabljeni vsi, ki poučujete angleščino v katerem od prvih treh razredov OŠ. Rezultate bom objavila na blogu. Hvala za sodelovanje!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Hello, Robby Rabbit!

I used to teach English at Pionirski dom and back then, young learners were my speciality. My youngest were ages 4 and 5. We did lots of independent language learning activities, but the courses at Pionirski dom did require coursebooks. The coursebook we used for age groups 4 and 6 were Hello, Robby Rabbit 1 and 2 by Carol Read and Ana Soberon. Personally, I tried not to put too much emphasis on coursebook work with my young learners (or any learners, for that matter), but I have to admit their other course materials such as storycards, flashcards, DVDs etc. were very valuable. However, they also seemed to be quite pricey ... Till now. Macmillam has decided to put their storycards and flashcards online. All you need now is some time, a printer and a laminator. Because we all know there is no such thing as too many stories! And even though this course was originally published for preschoolers, I find that the stories from the course are just as suitable for first or second graders as well.

Hello Robby Rabbit 1 stories: Hello, Robby Rabbit (emphasis on: intro, colours). Hickory Dickory Dock (counting), Buzz Buzz Buzz (face), I Like Bananas (food), Where's My Teddy Bear? (furniture), Five Little Green Frogs (counting)

Hello Robby Rabbit 2 stories: Robby's Birthday (birthday), Humpty Dumpty (clothes), The Little Train (farm animals/colours), Hurry Up, Gemma (morning routine), The Sun and the Cloud (weather), Old Macdonald's Farm (farm animals)

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

New beginnings

I hope your summer was filled with joy and laughter and your batteries are recharged. It's time for new adventures! I'll still be documenting mine here on this blog, so here's a fresh photo from my classroom wall. 

Friday, 24 June 2016

Summer holidays

Dear fellow teachers, it's finally here. The end of another school year. Time to let your hair down and enjoy, you've earned it!

Photo taken in Trboje in 2016

Friday, 17 June 2016

Our Summer English Magazine

The school year's almost finished, the grades are what they are and the students (and teachers!) don't really feel like doing "serious" work anymore. I wrote about pre-holiday classroom activities last year, so this year I'm just sharing a photo of what we did with our fifth graders yesterday: a summer magazine! I even made a copy of the magazine for each of the students as a parting gift as I won't be teaching them next year.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Little Seed: planting beans

It's finally springtime and we're learning about plants and weather with my first graders. I figured this was a perfect opportunity for some CLIL in our lessons. I vaguely remembered planting beans on cotton balls back in my school days - mostly that it was super exciting to watch how fast the plants grew - and decided to relive the experience as a teacher.

For introduction, we watched a short cartoon about weather and plants. It's from Playway to English 1 DVD, which I own a copy of, but I also found the video on Youtube.

If you haven't got the DVD or aren't into videos, the I Like the Sun story from Hello, Robby Rabbit course could also work. You can download it here on Macmillan, as it's free and 100 % legal. There's another story that fits this activity perfectly and it's Katie Grows a Bean Plant.

After watching the video and revising weather vocabulary with flashcards, it was finally time to plant the beans. All you need for this experiment is plastic cups (see-through are best, but any plastic cups will do), cotton balls, beans and access to water.

First you stuff the cotton balls into a cup and then you put a bean in the middle. You gently water it until the cotton wool is damp and place the cup somewhere near sunlight. All you have to do now is wait. We did and this is what happened:

In a few days our beans grew a considerable size and we took them home. The plant on the last photo is mine and I have to admit I was almost as proud of my little plant as my students were. Also, I finally figured out what those cup holders were really meant for!