Three years ago, I began a new regular interview series. There are always lots of “hot spots” around the world — places where there are natural disasters, political upheavals, etc. And English teachers can be found in most of those places. If you are an EFL/ESL teacher in one of those areas, please let me know.
Today, thanks to an introduction by Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto, I’m interviewing Judih Weinstein Haggai from Israel, who also took the photos in this post.
What do you teach, where do you teach, and to whom do you teach?
I teach EFL to kids from seventh to twelfth grades. I seem to work with the ADHD set (although that has become a given throughout our student population) and those who are special ed (dyslexia, dysgraphia), as well as those who are slow starters for various reasons.
I work in a school that combines two once separate populations: from our kibbutz settlements as well as from moshav (rural farming) settlements. This particular school is in its fourth year and was built as a hi-tech building, fortified against rocket attack.
Nofei Habsor is in the area just east of the Gaza Strip,and fortification is essential for our students’ safety.
I also teach puppetry to a select group of pupils in the eighth and ninth grades. We build our puppets and work on our own skits.
I am mentoring morning meditation sessions in the seventh and eighth grades, which fortifies me for the day along with the pupils and their teachers who do it with me.
What led you to become an English teacher and, in particular, to teaching where you are now?
I was in an experimental children’s theatre troupe a long time ago and started to work with kids to write their own plays. When I moved to Israel, I wanted to begin a similar English Children’s Theatre. When I asked for a grant from the Jewish Agency, they suggested that I become an English teacher and bring my theatre into the classroom. At the time, my friends encouraged me to take the required courses to upgrade my BA in Literature to a English teacher’s degree and licence. I did, got all the required paperwork, but continued in my career as a puppeteer. I found myself teaching PuppetEnglish in small workshops and then easing into the school system as parents asked that I teach native English speakers with my methods.
At the same time, I began working with BBC computer programs to teach beginning readers and I was delighted to see that dyslexic children, bright children loved learning with games and attractive tactile applications. This was in 1989.
I moved into regular school teaching and have been in my current job since 1995.
How does the Israeli/Palestinian conflict affect you and your students in your lives and in your teaching and learning?
Most of our students have lived their lives under threat. They don’t remember the period of peace we enjoyed. Our kibbutz had workers from Gaza and we had very friendly relationships until the start of the Intifada. At the time, the workers found themselves labelled as ‘collaborators’ if they came to work for us, and so that was that.
Our students have been brought up in an atmosphere of tension and with each rocketfall, we have to work harder to suggest that one day peace may be possible.
The teachers are more optimistic than the students, and there are projects to work for co-existence. Adele could tell you about the projects she’s been involved in.
I have students who have worked with JITLI, a project to work with Jewish, Arab and European youth to promote leadership for peace.
However, in general, the situation is simply part of our daily lives. We live mostly in relative quiet, but we are in constant alert. Many students show signs of anxiety, many are unable to focus, but perhaps that’s a general statement for the new generation all over the world.
We look for ways to capture their interest and have them self-motivate. We use digital methods when applicable, and subject matter that speaks to them.
If during our schoolday there’s a warning alert, we stay inside our classrooms and continue to study, or if we’re outside in our beautiful landscaped campus, we duck into a building or shelter.
Normal life is simply normal! Students and teachers study, meet at breaks, and take tests, do exams, projects, etc.
At the end of the day, students go home on buses and we are in touch via What’s App. Regular school patterns!
What do you see happening in the next few years — do you predict any kind of beginning resolution to the conflict?
I predict that it will take a while for the conflict to subside. It will take something unusual to shake us all into the realization that peace is the only operative choice. It might take a natural disaster, or a brilliant set of leaders, but the solution is coming.
This young generation must be encouraged to see that solution in the making, as it will be in their hands. Our job is to encourage that vision and to promote the independent creative form of thinking that is required to build that peaceful resolution.
Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you’d like to share?
I’m heading a project creating a live bridge between pupils in Albany New York and our kids in the seventh grade (the top picture is of students involved in that project). We talk by google hangout, and chat, as well as sharing youtube clips and regular mail messages. I’m participating in a special project of educators and entrepreneurs called MIndCet. We’re working on EdTech to promote learning.
Personal details: I am vegan, with four children. I have blogs, I write daily morning haiku. I live on a kibbutz in the Western Negev..I love MOOCs, from Coursera or iversity. That’s about it for now.
Regular readers know I’m a big fan of using “What If?” history in the classroom — see The Best Resources For Teaching “What If?” History Lessons.
It looks like NPR has become a fan of the idea, too. This week, they’re inviting readers to share their visions of what the world would have looked like if World War One hadn’t happened.
See their article, A World Without World War I, Featuring Health-Nut Hitler.
I’ve been sharing about an ongoing project my ELL Geography class has been doing — studying different countries, developing questions about them, and then recording videos of themselves asking those questions that we’d send to an English class in that country.
It’s been a great experience for everyone involved, and I’ve previously shared some of those videos:
The latest response is from our sister class in South Africa.
You can see our videotaped questions at our class blog here.
I’ve embedded the great response from our sister class in South Africa below. Here’s a description of that class and its teacher, Sven Glietenberg:
I’m a second-year teacher of Grade 10 English (First Additional Language) at Ntswane Secondary School in Hammanskraal near Pretoria, South Africa.
We’re a semi-rural government school – learners only pay $10 a year to attend. Most learners speak Setswana as a home language but every class contains home-language speakers of all 11 South African official languages.
The learners are very enthusiastic to learn and we make the most of things and try to be creative and active as much as possible, even though we lack some facilities (no electricity in classes/computers/proper sanitation etc.)
A lot of great things can and do happen despite the challenges, mostly all you need is enthusiastic teachers and learners, and a bit of creativity and patience.
I’ve been posting annual lists of The Most Popular (& Useful) Resources For Educators for a number of years. There are a number of ways to gauge “popularity.” I just view these lists as opportunities to check-out some new sites, and find it interesting to see which ones might be particularly “popular.”
I thought it would be useful for readers, my students, and me to review them all and identify my choices for the “all-time” best ones.
I’ve begun creating a number of these “All-Time” Best list, with The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly being the first ; The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education second; The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators third; The “All-Time” Best Online Learning Games was the fourth one; The “All-Time” Best Social Studies Sides was fifth; and The “All-Time” Best Science Sites was sixth.
Look for quite a few more “All-Time” Best lists over the next couple of months.
There are nearly 1,300 Best lists now that are categorized and updated regularly. You can see them all here.
Here are my choices for The “All-Time” Best Places To Find The Most Popular (& Useful) Resources For Educators These are not listed in any order of preference):
What We Watch:a geographic exploration of popular YouTube videos is from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and lets you use a map to see and compare which YouTube videos are most popular in countries around the world.
Google hosts “Top Charts,” which show the top things that people are searching for in multiple categories on a monthly basis.
Here are a couple of examples:
USC Rossier Online, associated with the University of Southern California, has a rating system for education blogs that they call The Teach 100.
The YouTube Trends Map shows which videos are popular in different regions of the United States and in many countries of the world, along with further filtering by the age of viewers.
The Internet Map shows you the most popular websites in the world, and in each country.
Amazon has a feature called “Most Highlighted Passages Of All Time.” Here’s how Amazon describes it:
The Amazon Kindle, Kindle for iPhone and Kindle for iPad each provide a very simple mechanism for adding highlights. Every month, Kindle customers highlight millions of book passages that are meaningful to them. We combine the highlights of all Kindle customers and identify the passages with the most highlights. The resulting Popular Highlights help readers to focus on passages that are meaningful to the greatest number of people. We show only passages where the highlights of at least three distinct customers overlap, and we do not show which customers made those highlights.
Richard Byrne has described “Ten By Ten” perfectly. So I’m going to quote from his post, and I would encourage you to go there to read his ideas on how to use it with students: “Ten by Ten is a unique program that links images with news stories. Every hour the top 100 news stories from around the world are linked to images on a ten by ten grid. The stories are ranked.”
Most Popular Educational Videos – All Time comes from a site called eduTube. It looks like there are some pretty interesting ones in the mix.
Again, please let me know what sites I’ve missed….