Saturday, April 4, 2009

Puppets, planning, and pipe cleaners

The weather reports sounded dire and it appeared that the inservice training would be postponed--again. In the end, there was no blizzard, almost no snow at all, and it was a good morning to get together and learn something new.

Only ten in-home volunteers joined us for the training. Although the turnout was lackluster, to say the least, enthusiasm was high among those in attendance. Having such small groups meant we had the luxury of lots of one-to-one instruction and an opportunity to tailor the training to the specific needs of the attendees.

Kim Hosp and Cayenna Johnson helped walk the tutors through the process of lesson planning, linking the four skill areas within a lesson and then carrying over the material from one week to the next, and effectively incorporating text books into a lesson. Each time I peeked into the room, the tutors were deeply engrossed in the presentation. As soon as I get the highlights of these presentations, I'll post them here.

The other two presentations came courtesy of Kate Goodspeed and Sharon McCreary (me). Kate's lively presentation addressed the needs of our most prevalent type of student in the home-tutoring program--the pre-literate, zero-level English learner. When I poked my head in and checked on Kate's session, the five volunteers were actively engaged in activities meant to elicit speaking from the absolute beginner language student. The use of puppets was particularly original, and Kate's lesson underlined the need to present material in ways that are interesting, effective, and fun.

The final presentation was truly hands-on. I demonstrated many different ways to use index cards as teaching tools, how to break away from keeping lessons on paper, and how to use a wide variety of manipulatives including pipe cleaners, picture cards, textured letters, and musical instruments.

Huge, huge thanks to Cayenna, Kate, and Kim for putting in the time to prepare excellent, targeted lessons (entirely based on your questions and requests for help), and for giving up part of their weekend to teach for free.

The next inservice training will be sometime this summer. If you would like to suggest a topic, be sure to let me know. I hope to see you then--many more of you!

Are you intrigued by this picture? Most things about our inservice trainings are intriguing--but only to those who attend!

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