Why did I go to Australia?
Hmmmm, how to keep this story short? It was 2009, I was in my seventh year of teaching, halfway through my Masters degree, living in Phoenix. I had already moved and lived in England twice (fiance in British Army).....and had a nice kindergarten teaching job. However, enrollment was down and my team was being cut from 5 to 4 classes. Someone would need to leave or be asked to leave.
I loved (still love and see frequently) my team but as the last hired, not to mention super unrooted gypsy that I am, I thought this may be a door closing with a window opening elseware......I volunteered to leave and "maybe go to Australia?!"......my soldier was getting ready for another deployment to Afghansitan (hence why I wasn't living in England.......deployments and training kept him......occupied to say the least).......so I thought expanding my teaching career somewhere would be a good idea.
New York? possibly. Australia? how great would that be? the beaches, the kangaroos, the accents! Looked into it, my chance for a visa was coming to a close sharply (working holiday visas for Americans--must be between 18-30 years old.......I turned 30 that summer)...........I bought a one-way ticket and began as a sub before I landed my dream job at the English Language School.
Australia. Best 15 months.E V E R.
So some pictures from my classroom in Melbourne (p.s. no Lakeshore, etc there and hardly any funding for the ESL schools so don't mind the makeshift everything and I could only bring my teaching supplies that would fit in 1 suitcase!)
Our "greeting" sign that we added words to over the weeks and months. Every morning when I took attendance, I would say "Good morning, ______" and "How are you?" All they really knew was "Good, how are you?" So we got into the thesaurus to learn new words. They loved using these new words! Love this little poster. *Remember spelling is different in England and AU (didn't want you to think I spelled marvelous wrong......and excuse the handwriting......it's Victorian font)
Ah, weekend writing. This is a great concept for English Language Learners or any learners! This make-shift poster had pictures of things we do over the weekend with a simple sentence (On the weekend I went to the market, etc). I also made mini-books for the students with the same pictures.
Every Monday was a similiar lesson. Reviewing present/past tense verbs and transition words (first, next, then) as some students are ready for paragraphs. I did modeled writing and then we got into small groups to have speaking and listening practice about our weekend (these classes only have 9-12 students!!! loved it!).....Then the students used resources to help them in their writing, and the next day we used computers to type it up!
The consistency was great for my pre-literate, interrupted or equivalent schooling students. They were always very proud of their work and the growth that they would see. Some literally started by drawing pictures only, and then by the end were writing in paragraphs with no resource help!
Weekend writing picture up close.
Job board (this one is for literacy centers) for one of the groups. With the various levels in my class, I needed literacy centers to be differentiated for all of my learners. Some of the students were pre-lit and in the silent stage, learning Zoo Phonics while some students were reading chapters books and focusing on higher level grammar, vocabulary etc.
This job board shows the picture icons for all of my literacy activities/games. The picture icons help them find the activities, because the tubs they're kept in have the same icon. The students can move on to the next "job" when they're finished. They don't have to wait for the others in their group. The jobs hit writing, phonics/spelling words, sight words, and phonemic awareness each day. I call them over to read to me during this time.
I've also used a job board in kindergarten and believe it can work in and K-3 classroom. It has been the best way I've seen to incorporate differentiated literacy centers. It's not my idea, I came across it when I was subbing one day and have adapted it over the years.
Yes, students sometimes don't get through all of their jobs, and some finish earlier, but we have a procedure for finishing early. I love that the students get literacy activities and games for their level. It's G R E A T! I got my kinder team in Phoenix hooked before I went to Australia.
Job board notebook-this student is showing that he glued in his spelling list for the week. The students do some of their literacy centers into a notebook (vocabulary graphic organizers, making words, cutting up spelling words and gluing them back together, etc).
Having the spelling list in their literacy centers notebook ensures they also have their spelling words (because there are different lists of course! Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate!)
I started cutting out pictures and small articles from the free newspapers I would read on the train going home from work (have I mentioned I love public transport in Australia and Europe?!! love it!) and then we could discuss captions, titles, different things we read about, etc. Then the students started bringing in clippings!!! Awww, melt my heart! Some of these little guys were refugees from Burma, Ethiopia, Liberia, Sudan and more and they really started to catch on! I loved this teaching job AND I really loved Australia.
Hope I can teach there again someday.