Over the four schools and nine demonstration lessons I have visited (and given) in the last three days, something has become curiously apparent. The Shoebox content and methodology can suit children who learn differently, who see the world through different eyes. We are all familiar with these children and the particular methodological requirements they place on our teaching practices.
At two of these schools, I was advised by the principals and teachers that I would have five such students in two of the classrooms, and I was delighted that I was only able to spot one of them. Why? Because the other four found the colour-coding of Shoebox and the hands-on methodology so clear that they engaged fully and in fact, actually did better than some of the other students! Both teachers and principals were amazed and delighted.
While Shoebox was never designed or intended as a methodological tool for such students, it appears to work. I don't have the research background to understand the learning processes here, but perhaps the colour coding, sequencing and clear structure make it easier for students who learn with their eyes and hands rather than with pencil on paper.
Oh. I should point out that other students enjoyed it as well, and I was tickled pink when a Year Two boy described the lesson as 'breathtaking!' His teachers should be delighted for his vocabulary alone!
I've just spent a delightful morning as the guest of Our Lady of Mt Carmel PS in Fremantle, where I was invited to give lessons for the Year One and Year Three classes. It's always wonderful to get back into the classroom and interact with students and especially wonderful if I can share some Shoebox. I shouldn't have been surprised how quickly the Year Threes picked up the content; after all, they have so much less to UNLEARN, so what we regard as strange grammatical ideas that go against the old (mythical) ideas of Noun = Person, Place, Thing; a Verb is a Doing Word etc are just regarded by the Year Threes as normal learning. Their educational storehouses have a lot more space than those of adults, and children are a whole lot more excited about filling their storehouses.
The other thing that was very noticeable, as expressed by the Year Three teacher, was that children learn much better by discovery. When they were confronted by the sentence "Playing soccer makes John happy" they worked out that 'Playing soccer' is a noun because it goes into Position One, regardless of how much it looks like a verb. They also discovered that 'is' is a verb because it goes into Position Two, never mind that it thoroughly demolishes the old standard of a Verb is a Doing Word.
The Year Ones also, apart from having huge amounts of CUTE, were also delightful as they figured out that we need Positions One and Two, that capital letters go in the Yellow box and the fullstop goes after the Red Box, just the same as the red light tells Daddy when to stop driving.
Thanks again, OLOMC!
Next Tuesday marks a rather exciting day for Shoebox as I travel down to Manjimup to address a group of teachers from 12 different schools at their network PD day. After speaking with a network principal a month or so back, who invited me to do a demonstration lesson in one of his Year Four classes, he also invited me to nominate as a presenter for the PD, which I did, and the Shoebox brochure was distributed around the 12 network schools. I was astonished to get the news that 45 teachers, principals and other staff had signed up for a 2.5 hour course on grammar!
It will be wonderful to get back to the country; I always enjoy the different atmosphere of country events, particularly from schools which have small populations of less than 50 students, and where every student's name and background is known.
The next day, after I drive back, I am booked to do two more demonstration lessons, so it's going to be a busy week!
I've just returned from a country town, where I did a full day Primary PD for two local schools. It's always wonderful to see teachers' faces light up when they see grammar in a new way, and I really enjoyed hearing them discuss how they can use Shoebox in the classroom. Thanks also to the teacher who suggested the Quick Reference cards (a fantastic idea!) which is next on my to do list for the Members Library.
I usually switch off in the car on the way home and listen to music. This time, however, I was so fired up by the Quick Reference card idea that is started me thinking about new ways to run PD workshops and also to sequence lessons in the classroom.
Thanks again to those two schools! I'll see you both shortly.
This was something I had looked forward to for some time, so I was delighted to step inside the pre primary at Swan View and see how the two teachers there had put Shoebox into practice. Not only were their two classes immaculately behaved and their rooms a visual treat, but all around the room were evidences that these little ones had started to engage with their language, which made me terribly excited. I was also treated to two performances, one of their Hat sentences and one of Adjective Battles! Both were fantastic and I was reduced to delighted smiles and loud applause at the end. (I was told that one of the children, after having learned adjectives, went home and helped his older brother, who didn't know what an adjective was!) This is the generation of Shoeboxers who will go through school with much better knowledge of their language.
Finally, let me express my amazed awe at the work of the two teachers, Nicole Lavender and Michelle Wenzel, who have made Shoebox their own. Bravissima!
I'm off to visit a school this coming Thursday after an email from the principal, who told me I would be astounded at the way that Shoebox has fitted into the school and that I would want to refer to it in future dialogues. I need no convincing, especially since the principal was referring to pre-schoolers.