Introduction to best practices - UNOi Internacional
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Introduction to best practices

By Elaine Gallagher Dear Readers, as promised in a previous ENGLISH CORNER column, we’ll now be presenting some ideas for “Best Practices” from Teacher: Julio Edgar Gerardo Martinez, from Colegio Multicultural UNN, Hermosillo, Sonora, MEXICO. Julio’s Best Practice Title is:  Beyond the Classroom, and the activities Julio uses are suitable for 5th and 6th grades, […]

Autor: UNOi

Fecha: 17 de septiembre de 2015

Elaine Gallagher 08 cegBy Elaine Gallagher

Dear Readers, as promised in a previous ENGLISH CORNER column, we’ll now be presenting some ideas for “Best Practices” from Teacher: Julio Edgar Gerardo Martinez, from Colegio Multicultural UNN, Hermosillo, Sonora, MEXICO. Julio’s Best Practice Title is:  Beyond the Classroom, and the activities Julio uses are suitable for 5th and 6th grades, or even for middle school students.

In Vítoria, Brazil on August 22nd, there was a 2nd Annual Bilingual Conference, all day from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, at Darwin School, an UNO school. Even though the title was “Bilingual”, the conference actually was 100% in English.

The first part of the conference was set up like the “Ted Talks” on You-Tube, with six 15-minute “UNO Talks” by international speakers from Brazil, Israel, and the U.S.A.

Then, after a coffee-cake-and sandwich break, there were six exhibitions/talks, selected from various entries, exhibiting “Best Practices”. Four practices were personally-presented, and two were conducted by Skype and videos, one from UNOi Colombia and one from UNOi Mexico.

These six examples of great ideas for UNO teachers were each assigned to a different classroom, and conference participants rotated every 20 minutes, so they could see and participate in workshops with all six examples.

A delicious hot lunch was served in the school cafeteria, and after an hour, we returned to the main auditorium for a “Round Table Discussion”. The presenters from the “UNO Talks”, and the teachers from the Best Practices sessions were on the stage, to speak briefly and to answer questions from the audience.

Sharing of ideas to improve or enhance our teaching was the prime objective of the 2nd annual bilingual conference. The objective was successfully reached.

Now let’s look at some of the technology ideas for 5th and 6th graders, as shared in Brazil by Teacher Julio Martinez (aka “Mr. G.” ) from Hermosillo.


Ideas for Best Practices


– Skype in the Classroom


* Mystery Skype: Collaborate with other classes, no matter where they are.

Guess each others locations asking yes/no questions. Practice geography, asking questions, vocabulary etc! Share each others cultures, food, etc.

Or review any topic by playing games through Skype; example, if both classes are learning fractions, play a fractions game with each other. We have used Kahoot ( a game based digital learning platform)


* Guest Speakers: Find guest speakers and invite them into your classroom. Authors, scientists, athletes and more! We have had a marine biologist stationed in Australia be a guest speaker. We were learning about oceans. The students were amazed!! We have also had one of the creators of one of our favorite App Toontastic as a guest speaker.


* Field Trips: Take a virtual field trip anywhere in the world. From Mount Everest’s base camp to the bottom of the ocean, these field trips offers you the chance to take your?class on an unforgettable virtual adventure. Partners? include museums, zoos and explorers that make extraordinary experiences free and available to classrooms anywhere in?the world.


– Toontastic App

My students use this App a lot to make stories using their BE a Speaker words. First we learn the new vocabulary. Then I have my students get into teams and brainstorm and organize their story. I use this worksheet to help them organize their ideas: pdf Then, as a team, they create a cartoon using all the features in this amazing app and using at least 10 of the 15 of the vocab words from that weeks lesson. Then they edit it and we present them all to the class!


– Experiments

A cool and fun way we learn topics seen in the BE a Scientist is to BE A SCIENTIST! Do as many experiments as you can related to the topics being learned. That way the students can visually see what they learned in class and get their hands dirty! There are tons of experiments online that students can do. We have done many. We did the volcano experiment when we were learning about Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii, the celery food coloring experiment, and many more!


– Plays

My students present a spring musical every year in April. We being rehearsing in December. We have some “acting classes” to help the students. Again I reinforce the importance of TEAMWORK for this play to be a success. We make stage props and make costumes. My students just LOVE it. We have presented The Wizard of Oz, Glee, Grease, and The Sound of Music.


– Comic Strips

Another activity I use with my students to practice the correct usage of their BE a Speaker words is making comic strips. Either digital with any app (there are many) or paper made. They love this activity. Again, I have them work in teams. They all work together to come up with the story using the vocab words. Then, THEY decide who does what! Illustrator, writer, etc. I have them be in the same team for two or three comic strips so they have the chance to have different roles. Illustrator, writer etc. Then they share them with the class.


– Projects, Projects, Projects!

We always do a project for the BE a Reader section. For example, in the first unit, we learned about being healthy. After reading the text and learning about how to live a healthy life and the risks of living an unhealthy life style my students researched how many calories, sugar, and fat popular snacks and drinks have (healthy and unhealthy snacks/drinks) . For example, they would look up how much sugar is in a can of coke and then they would put that amount in a ziplog bag and do the same for other drinks. Then they compared them. They visually saw the amount that sugar is used in each product. Then, they would present them to the class and invite other students from other classes to watch and inform them of the risks/consequences of being unhealthy and the benefits of living a healthy life. They did this not only for food but for exercise as well. Playing video games/ iPad vs playing an actual sport etc.

Another project my students have done is when the story of the BE a Reader was about a roller coaster experiment in a science class. So we read the story and discussed it. Then I had them get in to teams and make an actual roller coaster made of only construction paper and tape. They used a marble to try it out. They had a blast. Coming up with the name of the roller coaster and making the turns etc. We practiced TEAMWORK!!! After, we discussed the importance of working in teams means and why. All around learning!

Another project we do in our class in the UNO Project. We follow the Constructive Interaction steps every week to complete the project. For example, one we did was about organizations and governments. We were learning about the Founding Fathers of USA. My students got into teams and made up their own governments. Flag, currency, country, language, etc. It was quite interesting. Then, we also compared and contrasted the US and Mexican Revolution and Founding Fathers.


– Reading Novels

My students read at least two novels a year. Its part of their HW. They do the reading at HOME! Once in a while I read a chapter or two to them in the class. I have them read two chapters per week. And throughout the week we have quick reading comprehension activities pertaining to the chapter read. Questions, vocabulary, debates, compare/contrast, character analysis, summaries, etc. Then, at the end, they write a well detailed book report. They have the choice to present their book report as a PowerPoint presentation. NO MEMORIZATION OF SLIDES! They must explain it using his own words AIDED by the visuals in the PPT. We have read Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by Roal Dahl and Number the Stars by Louis Lowry,


– Writing Journals

To practice writing and correct verb tense usage, I write a question on the board and students write an answer in paragraph form in their “Writing Journal”. I usually use the verb tense that they are learning in BE Literate. For example, if we are reviewing the past tense in BE Literate, then my question of the week would be: What is your favorite family vacation? I remind them that its an event that happened in the past and to remember to use the past tense. I guide them with an example. I answer the question orally to them adding intonation to: My favorite family vacation WAS when my family and I WENT to the Grand Canyon. I dont focus on the grammer too much! I want it to be natural, just like I learned English.


– Kinder Buddies

I pair up my class with a kindergaten class. Then, once in a while, my students go and read to the litte ones. Not only do they read to them but my students also help them with their work, listening to them read their montly kindergarten story and helping with pronounciation etc. My students also help with reinforcing topics learned in class. I especially have them focus on oral skills. Everything is spoken in English. For example, my students help the little ones with vocabulary. So instead of having them repeat the vocabulary word “cow”. My students encourage and model using sentences. Example: This is a cow. The cow is white and black. After a while, the little ones begin saying complete sentences instead of just the vocabulary word!

The important thing here is to make the little ones feel like they have a “buddy” in school. My students learn responsability, patience, tolerance and so many other things. Its a WIN WIN..


– Pen Pals

Another activity my students are part of is international pen Pals (digital). They write back and forth to each other through email. They Skype with each other once in a while.


– Vocabulary

Every week my students look up in the dictionary what part of speech the vocabulary words we see throughout the week (not only in BE a Speaker) are. This helps with learning how to use it correctly.


– Mental Math

I pair my students up and have THEM come up with the mental math problems and dictate it to their partner. Then they switch and repeat and check answers.


Sing and Dance

My students love music and dancing. So one or twice a week we have dance offs using Nintendo Wii Just Dance game. We also have Kareoke Fridays. At first they are shy, but once I do it, they do it too.