Archive for June, 2013

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Susan’s Reflections:

This past Monday, I gave out certificates to my last class of the spring term at Cascades Library.  It felt that the class had just started, but the eight weeks flew by once again!

The spring term covered the topics of health, housing, and occupations.  At Guilford Elementary, my class learned about health.  Students learned the parts of the body, different types of aches and pains, and going to the doctor.  They completed different activities such as interviewing each other about how often they get headaches to role playing in the class about if they should or should not take aspirin for a fever.

Both classes at Guilford Elementary and Cascades Library learned about housing.  We talked about the different rooms in a house, what is outside a house, accidents that occur at home, housing ads, and making phone calls about places for rent.  Students worked with real housing ads in picking houses they liked and houses they did not like.  They also talked about their current house and their dream house.

Also, my class at Cascades Library learned about different types of occupations, forms of identification, reading job ads, practicing what you would say at job interviews, and how to fill out job applications.  Students worked with real job ads picking out jobs they liked and did not like.  They also interviewed classmates about their skills and what type of job they would like to have.  At the end, students had the opportunity to complete job applications.

As I continue to teach, I find myself growing as a teacher.  My lesson plans have developed from the fall term into much more detailed and thorough plans for this spring term.  This term, the materials were tougher for some students.  One of the biggest lessons I learned was it is okay to slow down and one lesson may take two classes to teach.   Again, I am thankful for my class aides, Jackie and Laura, who were there to provide more individualized help for our students!

Though another term has ended, I am glad to have had the opportunity to see students grow from their first day of class.  Some students have truly come out of their shells and progressed in their English speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills.  A few students did not know any English at the beginning of the term, and by the last class, they could make some simple conversations.   One student who also took the class in the winter now has a part-time job and has opened a banking account.

My favorite part of the class has been watching the friendships form in the classroom. This term, some students met for coffee and some students would call each other on the phone each week.   The forming of cross-cultural friendships has been one of the most rewarding parts of this spring teaching term and this AmeriCorps experience.

Carrie’s Reflections:

I cannot believe another term has gone by! This spring term, like all the rest, has been such a learning experience for me as a teacher. Teaching units on the health, the house and home, work, and family really opened my eyes to the complexities of the English language. My adult ESL learners were such an inspiration for me because of their determination to learn, correct and perfect the English language both in speaking conversationally and writing. As I was planning my lessons for this session, I was overwhelmed with the amount of grammar used and the longer dialogues present, but I quickly learned that my students were eager to grasp on to the challenges. And they thrived!

Throughout the 8 week session, I kept thinking to myself, “What if I was in their shoes? Would I be able to learn so much in such little time?” Honestly, I’m not sure if I could do it. And, I am so proud that my students, who have busy home and work lives, take the time to spend 2-4 hours in a classroom for two months and focus their energies on learning this complicated language. I was so impressed when my students were able to create their own dialogues using complex language skills such as contractions, the future with will, adverbs, etc. Also, incorporating dialogues into every class session really improved my students speaking abilities by way of better pronunciation and greater confidence levels. Having my students practice the conversation with their partner and saying their conversations aloud to the whole class, allowed them to eventually become comfortable speaking in the English language.

But I definitely could not have taught my two classes and seen so much progress in my student without my teacher assistants! I am so grateful for my teaching assistants Beth W. and Tina O. They are incredible in the classroom and their enthusiasm to help the students is so motivating to the students. I’m proud to say that they will both be taking on lead positions for the summer adult ESL session. They are going to do a fantastic job!

As the summer session approaches (the last session of the year!), I will bring new knowledge into the classroom.


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??????????We have been fortunate to have been the recipients of several book drives by local organizations in the last few months. Golden Pond School, in Ashburn, donated almost 700 books to our family literacy program, after an extremely successful book drive at the school. This is the third year that the school has held a book drive for us and we are grateful for this ongoing partnership. The Montessori School of Leesburg completed a special project for us in the spring, where they bought backpacks and new books for children so that we can then distribute them to some families who really need some extra assistance. The Frances Hazel Reid PTA donated 5 boxes of books to us from an annual book sale that they just completed. We’ve also had a couple of local families have Birthday Book Parties for us. Rather than bring a gift for the birthday girl or boy, guests bring one or two new books to donate to our organization. What a great way to teach your children about the importance of giving to others less fortunate! Donated books are used throughout the year in various ways; we give them to our Head Start families, they are given to children living in the Homeless shelters through our Sweet Dreams program and we work with reading specialists and ESL teachers at Loudoun County Schools to provide as many books as possible to families who might not have books at home. Thanks to all of you in the community for your donations and efforts!

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