Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Better living through vocabulary!

Just in time to appease the spirit of holiday giving, FreeRice.org makes donating almost effortless. In fact, it won't cost a thing to make your donation to the World Food Program except for some free time and a bit of brain power.

Free Rice is a vocabulary quiz game that is just plain addictive. Remember studying all of those words for the SAT or ACT before college? Well, it's time to dust off that knowledge and put it to good use feeding hungry people around the world.

The Website, www.freerice.org, challenges you to match definitions with some pretty lofty vocabulary words. For each word you match correctly, Free Rice will donate 20 grains of rice to the World Food Program. Go ahead, give it a whirl!

Learn all about it: The Website and game were recently featured on National Public Radio. You can read the brief article (or listen) on the NPR Website by clicking here.

Have fun!

Christmas fun!

If you're looking for some very easy Christmas activities to use this week, check out the sites listed here. Many have accompanying worksheets, puzzles, and activities that are free of charge.
  • A simple explanation--with pictures--of common holiday themes. Click here.

  • Bingo! Print out these Christmas Bingo cards to use with intermediate-level students.

  • I printed out the slides of this Christmas vocabulary Power Point and shared them with my students. High-beginning and up.

  • ESL Christmas flashcards are here and they're free!

  • The History Channel has lots of information both in text form and video! My intermediate-level students understood a lot of the video information. Click here for the Christmas Home Page, and be sure to check out the links on the left side of the screen, especially "Fast Facts."

  • One of my favorite Websites, HowStuffWorks, has the most in-depth Christmas section on the Internet (so far). Start by clicking here, and look around. You'll be overwhelmed, I promise!

  • BogglesWorld always has something for just about any holiday or social situation you wish to discuss with your student. Click and check out the New Year's stuff.

If your student is Muslim, you should know that the biggest holiday of the Islamic year, Eid-al-Adha, starts on Wednesday, December 20.

What is `Eid Al-Adha ? The `Eid Al-Adha is a major religious event in the lives of Muslims. Usually, communities celebrate this occasion over a period of several days. Although only the pilgrims in Makkah can participate in the Hajj fully, all the other Muslims in the world join with them by celebrating the `Eid Al-Adha, or Festival of Sacrifice. On the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah, Muslims around the world wear their nicest clothing and attend a special prayer gathering in the morning. This is followed by a short sermon, after which everyone stands up to hug and greet one another. The traditional `Eid greeting is "`Eid Mubarak," which means "Holiday Blessings." Next, people visit each other's homes and partake in festive meals with special dishes, beverages, and desserts. Children receive gifts and sweets on this joyous occasion.

In addition, like the pilgrims in Makkah, those Muslims who can afford to do so offer domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Abraham's sacrifice. The meat is distributed for consumption to family, friends, and to the poor and needy. (information courtesy: http://www.islamonline.net/)

To find out more about this holiday--as well as why sheep and/or goats are so important to this festival--
visit Wikipedia's excellent Webpage on the subject.

Your student's food stamps

For the last year or so, I've fielded a lot of calls about refugee families having problems with their food stamps. Yes, this is a legitimate problem, but it is not the fault of the resettlement agencies in any way. Case managers throughout the resettlement network are struggling to help their clients with an unforgiving and complicated system.

The Rocky Mountain News recently ran several articles about this, including an editorial that explains the situation quite well. Click here for a link to the story.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Time to report your hours!

I woke up this weekend and it was December. Is that possible? Please don't forget to report your tutoring hours for November. I need your information no later than Friday, December 7.

You can send the information via email. Please include the following in your message:
  • Your name
  • The name of your student
  • The number of hours you spent together in November
  • Do not include planning time or driving time.
Please don't foget to send me this important information each month. Last month, no more than a handful of volunteers--out of dozens in the program--bothered to report their hours. Thank you to those who remembered and took the time to tend to this piece of business.

Remember, our program's funding and very existence depend on our ability to show that the refugees enrolled are receiving in-home instruction. Without your information coming in, I have nothing to report. It only takes a minute, and you can do it via email or phone. There will always be a reminder posted here on this blog, but you have to check in here from time to time.

CHECK THE BLOG! Once a week is probably enough. This is where I post teaching ideas, resources you might find helpful, and all kinds of ideas, including your monthly reminder to report your tutoring hours. Stay in touch--check the blog!

Looking forward to receiving your report of tutoring hours before Friday! Try to stay sane in the holiday rush.