Going Crazy for Curriculum

For those of you who don’t know, part of my part-time job is developing curriculum for an online ESL school.  Teaching English through the computer is a great use of technology but the classroom takes on a whole different feel.  Activities have to be modified and lesson plans have to be innovative but that’s what makes it interesting.  In the end students get the benefits of using new technology and having a native English speaking teacher.

I’ve just spent the last couple hours sorting through ESL videos and working on the structure for the latest set of ESL lessons.  Since the first lessons are geared towards younger learners, the videos and activities need to be energetic and engaging.  For example an example of the ideas we pull from, you can check out this YouTube video (The Shake Shake Song) from MapleLeafLearning.  I like it because it combines the new body part vocabulary with actions and singing.  You can’t listen to this song without doing a little shake!

whatdoyoulikesongAnd I also have been getting to know the characters and people in the videos that we tend to draw from.  This is Marty Moose.  He is from Canada. He knows how to make pizza and ski and play the guitar.  He’s a pretty talented moose.

Although the work can sometimes be tedious because organization, consistency and cohesion make a curriculum easy to use and follow, it’s great to be able to be creative once again and take advantage of my multi-tasking mind.  I’m thankful for a job that I enjoy, where I can learn and also create.


Another Job Update and Back to Curriculum

It has been a few years since I’ve gotten to dig my fingers into curriculum development and I’m excited that it is now a part of my new job.  When I wrote my last job update I had simply applied at a couple schools as well as a temp agency to see if I could get any subbing hours.  A few days later I got an email from a woman who had my resume from an earlier reply (back in January!) to her job posting.

We had a great first meeting and this is now my third week teaching for her.  The company offers online ESL classes that connect Chinese leaners to American English teachers.  Since it is a relatively new business she is hiring teachers and starting them with students one on one while she develops the curriculum for larger online classes.  5 days a week, I am working with a student who is preparing to come to the US.  We have an interactive online classroom complete with audio and video chat.  And I also get the joy of  helping her work on the curriculum.  The teaching time is fixed but the curriculum time is flexible so it works around the other things already going on.

But the best part really is that I get to work on curriculum again and use the skills and training I started developing back in Papua New Guinea.  I’m already starting to feel the activity ideas and organizational structures coming back.  It feels good to be back working in an area that I love.

Joy’s October Newsletter: Desiring Justice in an Unjust World

Even with all the changes and exciting things happening in my life, I am still raising support and moving towards Australia.  Hopefully this newsletter will give you another piece of the picture when it comes to why I am so drawn to the Aboriginal community and what I hope to do once I am there.  Happy Reading!

Native American Aboriginals- InternetJust Click on the Newsletter to read the PDF version or find it under the Newsletter Tab.

Practice Lesson Plans and Electical Work

I believe that the past couple of days have been really challenging for Hauwo, Jeffery and the rest of the Elementary teachers. I can see it in their faces. Sometimes they are engaged, understand what I am explaining and seem really excited. Other times they just look at me like i’ve come in from another planet and it’s my duty to torture them. Hopefully we can end this time with them feeling mostly the former and forgiving me for putting them through the latter.

The teachers received the basic overview of the materials well. And I think they especially liked when I explained how it all fit together with the government given guide for planning an Elementary curriculum. However at first, they were overwhelmed with the sheer volume of materials and resources. I had tried to make it as simple as possible but like many things that was easier said then done. However, Hauwo assured me that once the teachers had started working a bit more with the curriculum, they were able to see how it fit together and the repetition in each year and each term within the year. I hope that if these teachers, along with Hauwo and Jeffery understand how to use the curriculum, then they can pass that knowledge along to the other teachers who will be coming behind.

I like to teach by doing so along with the overview of the curriculum, I wanted the teachers to get their hands dirty and actually use the curriculum to make lesson plans. We started yesterday by working through some lesson plans together and then slowly each of the teachers tried lesson plans on their own. I then gave them feedback and other example lesson plans. We went through this exercise twice and today after some more review I gave them 5 different lessons to work on. They have been working all morning and will work part of the afternoon before I go over and review their work with them. Unfortunately some complications arise because the subjects Maths and Religion are generally already set out clearly with what is to be taught and when it is to be taught, but the other subjects are a little more loosely defined. And the teachers who are currently in the classroom have been flying by the seat of their pants for so long, that it is hard to grab a hold of and work within the comfortable constrains of a curriculum. Instead of looking at a blank, empty day and thinking of ways to fill it, the teachers have to conform their work to the schedule they chose and the themes and activities they worked so hard to come up with. I’m still not quite sure if they see all the activities listed in the curriculum as the work they did in all their theme webs. It’s an ongoing process.

In general I am pleased with the progress and Hauwo and Jeffery are really encouraging. They know the amount of work they put into the TPPS curriculum when they worked through that with Anne so even if the other teachers can’t see it, Hauwo and Jeffery know the work that went into the printed form of this curriculum. My own personal challenge is to stop looking at all the flaws. Each time I explain something, I find spacing that isn’t quite right or wording that could have been better or something else that’s a bit off. Some of the things are worth changing but most of it is just finicky things that should be left alone. If I had another year to work on it, I would probably still be finding things to change.

While the teachers have been working on the lesson plans, I have been playing electrician again. Hauwo and Jeffery did the first couple of lessons with the teachers but have been my assistants this morning getting the house regulator changed and this afternoon they will help me work on the literacy office regulator. The house power seems to be quite happy so now it’s time to put the old regulator up in the literacy office to try and figure out why their power isn’t happy. Nothing has blown up or fried yet so hopefully we can keep it that way.

In some ways I feel totally unqualified for all the parts of my job. Literacy and curriculum, i’ve learned by doing, through the STEP course and the great mentors i’ve had along the way. But I know I still have a long way to go and i’ve just scrapped at the ice berg. And I would never call myself an electrician even though now I am pretty comfortable making happy currants with multiple truck batteries and a basic regulator.

So now once these emails are sent it will be back to the literacy office for an afternoon of electrical work and elementary lesson plan review. All in a days work for the village.

The Onobasulu Elementary Curriculum

After spending most of August and all of September inputting data, formatting, organizing and revising, the Onobasulu Elementary Curriculum is finished.  This curriculum started with about 100 different theme webs made by the Onobasulu Elementary teachers.  These theme webs built a great foundation and made this truly Onobasulu work.

My role was as formatter, standardizer and advisor.  I formatted the theme webs into the Elementary standard Units of Work and added more activities here and there.  The most significant addition was a Religious Education unit that Elementary has as optional.  The teachers wanted this included but needed direction so I provided them with a mix of activities including theme related Bible stories, learning other Bible knowledge skills and a complete Bible overview for Elementary 2.

One of my favorite parts of this project is the Onobasulu teacher’s willingness to share their work.  They realize that they have had lots of help and resources that made this an attainable project for them and so they want to give others the same opportunity.  So with just a few tweaks I was able to get the curriculum to a point that any other language team can pick it up and use it as a foundation for their own schools.  Each team can decided which themes are relevant and use shell books or their own locally authored materials to provide reading material for the language units.

This was a huge project but hopefully the time and effort will pay off as the Onobasulu begin to use the curriculum in their schools and other teams adapt it for their needs as well.

Reaching a Milestone / What’s the rush?

Today I reached a major milestone.  It has taken all of August and most of September but I finally have the entire curriculum typed into the computer and ready for just a good read over and some tweaking before printing.  Needless to say one of my jobs this evening is to back up my computer once again.  I’m very excited to start seeing glimmers of the light at the end of the tunnel.

However, this is not the only project I have left to finish.  I still have to finalize and read through the TPPS curriculum.  I still have lots of books to organize and format, although much less then before thanks to all my great formatting helpers here.  And a myriad of other little details like packing and preparing for the village.

It is Wednesday and I now have less than two weeks until I leave for Malaysia.  Just in case you’re wondering what the big rush is, here is my upcoming whirlwind of a schedule:

Monday Oct 10-         Leave for Malaysia for an area retreat

Wednesday Oct 19-    Arrive back in Ukarumpa

Friday Oct 21-            Fly out to Walagu

Thursday Nov 24-       Overnight in Hagen

Friday Nov 25-           Fly to Madang

Wednesday Nov 30-   Fly to Ukarumpa

Monday Dec 12-         Leave Ukarumpa

Wednesday Dec 14-   Arrive in South Asia

Thursday Dec 22-       Arrive in Germany

Sunday January 8-      Arrive in England

Sunday January 15-    Arrive in Atlanta

I did the math and all that travel with layovers, overnights and changing planes represents at least 15 different plane rides and 7 different countries in the next 4 months.

Printing up a Storm

Part of my work today included 700 or so pages of printing.  I now have all the covers for the almost completed curriculum printed and all the English Bridging Books ready to be sent to the print shop to be bound.  Since I only needed 7 of them it was more economical to print it myself and then let the print shop do the hard work of binding them.  I’m very thankful for the literacy office printer that duplexed these and handled the volume with ease.  At over 100 pages each, that’s still a lot of printing.