Monday, June 18, 2012

Lesson Delivery 2: Classroom Tools, Supplies and Materials

What classroom tools, supplies and materials are you using regularly? Which ones do you have? Which do you wish you had? Why? Have you designed or developed any you would like to share? If so, please send a copy to Dr. R.


Patrick said...

One of the biggest resources I wish I would have is Clip-Art. My students here are really dependent on using the L1 due to lack of supplies (like their own copy of the textbook). I would like to use visual representations instead of doing the whole 1 for 1 L2 to L1 deal.

But the biggest tool in any situation is resourcefulness. I just need to be really efficient with my internet time.

Limited resources make teaching interesting. I never know if I'm going to have power to do an activity with audio (or make copies of the test!)

The biggest thing I've found is to use what is familiar to the students not just through a lesson plan together from the book. I teach in a very rural area (1 hour car ride to the nearest city) where poverty is rampant. I can't really talk about household appliances because they simply don't have a concept of what they are. For me this is where it is good to know the L1 because I can ask them questions about what things that are readily visible, like other classrooms trees and animals outside and the like.

One good tool that was already here for me was Popsicle sticks with the students’ names on them to get them to speak and for me to learn their names.

Patrick Reynolds said...

Have you been using google images for clip art? It works well.

Another resource is, of course, a book or CD of clip art. I know I own one. I hope that TEFL students think of including this resource in their tool kits.

In the meantime, what will you do?

Heidi Gradall said...

My teaching situation is much different than I anticipated. All the chalk and pencils I brought are useless. I´m grateful I also brought some dry erase markers, because that´s what I use every day. My only resources are a dry erase board that´s 1x2 feet wide, and my dry erase markers. Most of my students have paper and pens, but not all.

I have small class sizes so my extra activites that I had prepared before I came are useless. I had made a book of worksheets and games the students could do individually or with a partner to practice some basics like letters and numbers. when they were done with projects.

A teacher friend of mine was giving me advice and suggested to make worksheets and put them in sheet protectors. If you use a dry erase marker on the sheet protectors you can reuse the worksheet. It´s a great idea for low resource situations like mine. That´s how I prepared my extra activites.

I wish I had prepared standard basic exams or quizes on the basic verb congugations. I´m teaching a summer school course, so nobody is enrolled and grades are not part of the class, but I wish I could quiz them to help them solidify the material more than what we review in class.

I also wish I had a larger writting space so I could keep examples on the board to refer back to during the lesson. It would also be helpful so I could use the space for putting up examples and have space at the same time to expand where necessary.

Another resource I wish I had was someway to play music or provide listening samples aside from my voice. Or a recorder so I could record classes and give them to those who are struggling with the material. Also to leave copies for when I leave so they have a native English speaker´s pronunciation to study and mimic.

Overall though I´ve been pleasantly supprised at what I can teach with only a small marker board and markers.

Heidi Gradall said...

Patrick, I can relate to you in the sense of having limited resources. I´m a firm believer that you can do wonders with just a board and a marker. Even if you´re the worst artist in the world, everyone can draw a stick man and embelish it enough to get the point across. I do agree though that having access to photos or drawings would be useful; or even better a physical representation of the object, hands on is even more effective than just 2-D visuals. A great tool that fell into my lap was an English book that a friend had, which was basically a large picture book with English labels. I recommend finding a good picture book, with English vocabulary, this way you won´t be dependent on resources that come and go, like the internet.

codes said...

I was very fortunate to find the school I currently volunteer at. I have a bunch of teaching materials that I can use during my lessons. In each classroom, there is a whiteboard with markers. Each student has their own text and workbook for each class. Also, they all have their own school materials. The school also has a computer lab including a TV/DVD/Projector set. As you can tell, I have just about any resource I could ask for.
I brought my teaching materials CD from CI 409 and a few reading materials. The one thing I wish I had was a big world map (not the small one I saved on my 409 CD), so I could show them where some of our readings are taking place. I also brought a deck of cards and I’ve been using them to help manage the class as we were shown in Dr. Reynolds class. My students are very competitive so using the card activity is a great way to keep them under control. I begin class by passing out two cards to each student and through out class I will pass them another card if they are participating. However, if they speak Spanish or decide to be disruptive, I’ll take one away. Since they are so young, I simplified the game a little bit and instead of playing by poker rules, the students just count up the total value of their cards. So far, this tactic has worked wonderfully. Other than this, I’ve made a couple worksheet activities. Overall, however, the school pretty much has everything I need.

Kate Mastruserio Reynolds said...

So, Cody, What other resources could you have brought had you known that you would have a DVD player and so many resources?

It's great to be in that situation. What a relief, huh?

codes said...

One thing I could have looked for and brought would be a dvd that shows the differences between several American dialects. I think my 6th grade students would get a kick out of listening to all of them and trying to reproduce them. Some national geographic videos would also be good for the science class. However, the school does have the internet and plenty of computers so they have access to almost anything. Yes, it is a relief to be in this situation!!! I'm very very fortunate!

Kate Mastruserio Reynolds said...

Hi Codes,

Try this youtube vid:

About American accents:

Look for more at and they may have some more, but I gotta run to a meeting.

amanda.hokanson said...

I tended to rely heavily on the chalkboard to write down key words or draw what they didn't understand. (However, the board was simply painted wood- so my suggestion is to bring sidewalk chalk to write with because it handles that type of board nicely.)

I also have realized how wonderful it would be to have a textbook for the class, because we don't and I constantly have to print and make copies of anything I consider important- which is a pain. I did eventually have the bright idea to make students pair up and work on worksheets together, or write answers down in their notebooks instead of directly on the paper. (This was something they did readily because of the lack of resources during the normal school year). I also read (I think it was on this site) that you could bring dry erase markers and plastic sleeves to put over your sheets so that they can be reused each class. Wonderful!

It was hard not to be able to use powerpoints (because who doesn't love clipart pics???) or overheads and it was a struggle to get my laptop to play audio when we studied Dr. MLK Jr. and country music. Moreover, I couldn't bring very many authentic materials with me due to the extreme weight limits we had imposed on us by the airlines we had to use to fly there with.

Due to this lack or resources, I basically worked heavily on physical learning or TPR.

So my five main materials were: chairs, the chalkboard, the field outside, print-outs, and computer audio. I did occasionally have a game or two I bought garage-saling that I used. (THEY LOVED PICTURE BINGO!) They also enjoyed reading short 1pg fables that I had scanned before I left and reading/coloring "The King Who Rained."

PS: Internet was very limited until I discovered a local cafe during the second week. In the future, I'm going to try to prepare as much as possible before going abroad. Even if you don't relish making a CD like Prof. Reynolds suggests- DO IT!

Nessa said...

To everyone: I wanted to share a website called "" ( Under the "Publications" section you'll find lots of e-journals and articles dealing with US American culture, current events, the English language, politics, etc. I've found lots of articles that have short sections written by young people in the US. These articles could be very useful with advanced learners, especially when you're planning lessons that compare and contrast cultures. The website also helps keep me up to date with what's happening in the US.

Nessa said...

Overhead projectors are a resource I really love. I prefer using them to the blackboard for several reasons. First, I can prepare the transparencies ahead of time (time saver!). I also don't have to worry about running out of space - just grab another transparency. My handwriting tends to be neater and notes look clearer. Lastly, when using the OHP I can face my class instead of the board. This definitly helps with classroom management.

The hardest resource for me to find would be good, short, appropriate level articles. I don't have any type of coursebook, and as a TA, my teachers often ask me to do a lesson on a certain topic, and it's up to me to find all of the resources. Luckily I have easy access to the Internet, but it's still a challenge to find quality articles. I also find that I spend a lot of time looking and don't necessarily find anything useful. Does anyone know of good websites/search engines that have shorter articles or articles that are meant for ELLs?

SarahKjrsten said...

I am in love with the blackboard--less so with chalk dust. I draw so many pictures on the blackboard. Today we had a reading about budgies and the reading had a sentence that lettuce was bad for budgies and the kids wanted to know what lettuce was. All it took was a (terrible) sketch of a (rather sad looking) head of lettuce and they instantly knew what it was.

I also have a Wee Sing cd which is perfect for the ages I'm teaching. We sang Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Here We Go Luby Loo and Clap Your Hands to learn the body parts in first grade and in a few days will rock out to Old MacDonald with the second graders when we talk about animals.

My school also has a smart board in the library which I used once with a class. I didn't like it much. The only good thing about it was that the kids were so awed by erasing things that I could get them to sit in silence by promising that I'd erase something.

I really wish the classrooms had more posters. It's so strange, our school has a smart board, but so few posters on the walls. Classrooms in the US are covered in posters and I can't help but think that the kids would really benefit from being surrounded by more English text. There are a few posters in the English Teacher's room, but since I work in 10 different classrooms, the few posters I have won't go very far.

- Sarah Fox

SarahKjrsten said...

Nessa, I don't know what your level is, but you might find fun, short articles here:|ap.html Unfortunately, you can't sort the articles by topic, so it's a bit hit and miss.

Nessa said...

Just wanted to share a resource ...

My students had the best time playing "Taboo" today. It was our final activity and I haven't seen those students that excited about speaking loudly in front the class (and in English!) in a long time! There's a nice website that has files of "Taboo" cards you can download and print ... ... I used one the files and then edited them/added more cards to fit my needs. It's a great activity for intermediate or higher level learners.

Angie Gusto said...

We’ve been working with calendars and numbers, and I have this big cardboard calendar that I cart around with me everywhere. It’s nice to have in my classes, not so nice to bring it to my classes while riding a severely overcrowded public bus. Sometimes the nice older ladies who are seated on the bus will offer to hold it for me, which is an amazingly sweet gesture, but I also think they are just worried I might accidentally hit them in the head with it. I might need to modify my system and make a new one that fits in my teaching bag, or maybe even several so that the learners could work in small groups on them. Hmm… I am definitely liking that idea.

Talia said...

Our lessons are pre set for the camps I am in. Mostly, we have limited materials to work with, but we make it work. Mostly, we just have markers, scissors, tape, construction paper, pencils, and sometimes a white board (but we rarely use it). With these materials we make nametags for each student, plus make a group sign with the groups name on it. We also use this stuff to make props for the camp skits that they perform. Otherwise, for lots of the english activities we have worksheets printed for us. We have one for our one minute drill activity, my story, and work buidling. Each of these only consist of paper with the worksheet printed on it though. Everything is very basic, but it all works out nicely for each camp.

Angie Gusto said...

I have decided that I need to find real pictures of real people to use for lessons on physical descriptions. For today’s lesson with my group of children, I had drawn six pictures of people with different physical characteristics with a few descriptive sentences below each one (i.e. “Hi. My name is Rachel. I have long, black hair and brown eyes. My hair’s curly, too.”) I thought they were very engaging materials, and they were for two of my students I guess, but it was not enough for the other three. I felt like they still just wanted to take a nap on the floor of the aerobics room.

I also found that although I tried to make the pictures multicultural, Crayola crayons just don’t leave us with much room for accurate artistic expression. Even my more “mestizo” characters still looked White when I taped the pictures to my whiteboard. These kids already face enough issues with the idea that light skin, hair, and eyes are beautiful and dark skin, hair, and eyes are not. I do not need to be imposing any more of that on them! And the hardest part is that I already knew that I tried really hard to work against that and I still did not accomplish it! For example, while I was explaining one of the close-ended activities, several students misunderstood me and thought they needed to choose which person looked the most like them. One boy broke my heart when he said in Spanish, “But what if none of them look like me?” I broke into Spanish to quickly explain that these were just examples of what some people look like so we could practice our new vocabulary, and that they were not going to look for a picture that looked like them because we all look different. I think I need to look for a good multicultural book with many images of different people so that my learners can not only relate to the characters more, but also see more realistic and fair representations of physical characteristics.

Talia said...

Wow, that really sucks for a lot of you. I know I would hate it if I spent hours and hours planning lessons and bringing supplies to a job that ended up being completely useless! Im glad that if sounds like everyone has adapted well though. It is truly amazing what you can do with a whiteboard, paper and pencils. Though it is not the desired teaching situation, at least it sounds like a lot of you are adapting to the enviroment really well!

Kate Mastruserio Reynolds said...

@ Angie, maybe you could have them bring in photos of people in their lives?
Dr. R

Mikayla Schroeder said...

@ Heidi

Do the students have notebooks that they could write vocabulary in? With my older students, I have them write down vocabulary I want to refer back to in a notebook that they bring everyday. That way we have it whenever I want them to practice it.

cjdrummer said...

@Angie: That is so sad to read the comment about the boy who said that none of the people look like him. It is definitely important to include a multicultural set of pictures of people to be able to include everyone. However, sometimes it is difficult to find them. I really like Kate's idea of having the students bring in there own pictures of their family and friends. That really makes it more personal and more engaging for them!

Elyssa said...

I have been lucky enough to not face too many supply/material problems in my teaching. The main reason for this is that I am teaching online via Skype and there is an option for online screen sharing in which the person you are speaking with can view what you are seeing on your own computer screen. There is also file sharing, so if you want to send someone a worksheet to look over there is that possibility too. The one thing that I find lacking with this is the personal relationship with the students. I feel like when you work one on one with someone and are physically there next to them, it is easier to help them or explain a concept. I thought going into this experience that it would be pretty easy to do this still because on Skype you can still communicate with someone and see them. Unfortunately, it has been pretty difficult. I think one of the main reasons for this is that it is easier to 'read' a student when you are right there in front of them. When you meet someone for the first time just being physically next to them and speaking with them can break down some barriers and allow you to feel more comfortable with them. When you are talking to someone online, it is just thier face you see, sometimes they are hard to hear, and they can be unreliable about showing up for lessons. So though I am not missing much supplies and materials, I still feel as though my lessons lack something that can be better acheived by person-person interaction.

Cait said...

As for classroom tools and supplies, I think I could use more technology. The students each have their own book (some which have been previously used by their siblings so they have all the answers) and most bring a notebook and pencil/pen to class each day. As a teacher there is a white board and markers. There is a CD player in the room however that is it. I am a new teacher so I have learned how to make it work with just this. If we do group projects, I get extra paper from the secretaries and colored pencils (which also are on limited supplies.)

Because I am new, I am not positive which would be the exact extra materials I want to best improve my class but have more variety. It would even be nice if I could better utilize the limited sources I have because I don’t have any CDs here in Peru. We are provided the CD out of the book but it really is not good audio for the students such that the students even laugh at the poor quality. In that, I wish I had more options of CDs I could play during class or dialogues, music, or any other oral practice.

What I found most challenging with this amount of technology is when I taught children 6-8. At that age they don’t have books either. Usually most brought their own colors but beyond that it was just the children and me. I believe any audio (music or a beat) would have been helpful here to have a different voice or media than my voice. I managed by doing a lot of active movements (TPR) or I sang, but it’s not quite the same.

On a regular day, I use the students’ books and the white board a lot. Once in a while I will use the CD played for a change in voice. I have found and used activities from the internet or created my own worksheets. This is good for you want to focus on something but it definitely more time consuming to write all your own examples and as I have learned, something unexpected often comes up of either a mistake I made or a word I am familiar with and forget it doesn’t have an easy explanation- for example. But regardless, I have made use of what I have for the first month and it has been ok. But I think anytime you have more materials or resources, it can help.

Kate Murray said...

@Cait - Oh what I wouldn't give for a whiteboard! I found a little one in the house the other day and was over the moon, thinking to myself "Hallelujah this is a miracle!" but then of course there were no markers anywhere. But anyway, your materials situation does sound frustrating. Especially, like you said, when you can't even fully utilize what materials you do have, like the CD player. As for the textbooks, I had a similar situation at the beginning where I was trying to help the kids study for the exams they had coming up since they were still in school at that time and they had already done all the exercises in their textbooks so it was hard to try to find exercises we could use to review. Then when school finished, the mom gave me the older brother's old textbook to use for the rest of the summer to help the younger sister get a head start on next year, however like you said, all the answers have already been filled in.
I have been so thankful for the internet while I have been here. It has been so helpful. Sometimes I use worksheets that I find, but a lot of the times I google whatever the topic is that I plan to work on that week (synonyms, phrasal verbs, writing exercises) and I have been really lucky to find a lot of forums and really helpful tools that I have used or tweaked to come up with my own versions. One thing I really wish I had though is a reliable printer. I have been writing by hand a lot of the exercises and it is extremely time consuming. And then I think it causes my lessons to suffer a bit since I spend just an hour alone coming up with and then creating an activity by hand so by the time that is finished, I can't remember the rest of what I was planning to do for the class. Anyway, a printer would just be really helpful. I have been resourceful enough without textbooks which I'm glad because at first I didn't know what I would do without one. But like a said, the internet has been a real Godsend in that aspect.

cjdrummer said...

@ Kate Murray

I too, thought that I would h ave a difficult time without a textbook. However, I have also been lucky enough to have reliable internet anytime that I needed it. It is absolutely amazing to be able to find so many sample activities, ideas, songs, etc. online. I don't think I would have had very good lessons if I would have been without a textbook AND without the internet.

Spending time writing out exercises by hand takes an extremely long time. I have only had to do that a few times, so I can't imagine having to do that for every lesson. Are there any internet cafes or printing shops around? I suppose I wouldn't want to spend money on printing too many copies, but maybe it's not that expensive?

Cait said...

@ Alyssa
I'm glad to hear you had so many options while using Skype for your lessons, but I definitely agree that it is a less personal experience over the internet, and more so if you don't use the video. I noticed this when I was teaching my tutee in Assessment. To a certain aspect, it can be nice to just have the listening because there would be less distractions that are present in person, but it can be more difficult to connect on a personal level.

@ Katie
I agree totally about the internet and printer situation. We have internet here and when it works, it is wonderful but it often goes out for hours, days or even weeks at a time. Secondly is the printer situation. There is one at the school we can use but we now live a half hour away from the school so it is a pain sometimes to walk there to print only to walk back. Secondly if I need enough copies for my class I have to request them two hours in advance which is difficult to do if I don't have my lessons planned a day in advance. Which I have learned this is somewhat challenging to do far in advance with my class.

nate mortenson said...

I'm using a computer with the internet and powerpoint. This is a huge resource that offers just about anything. In the classroom I have chalk and a board. Nothing else, but I don't feel like I need anything else. It would be nice to hang up some English writing in the classroom, so I plan on having the studnets write letters and decorate postcards to hang up around the room. It would be nice to have flash cards and some reading materials, like short stories that the sudents could read invidually.

nate mortenson said...

I'm using a computer with the internet and powerpoint. This is a huge resource that offers just about anything. In the classroom I have chalk and a board. Nothing else, but I don't feel like I need anything else. It would be nice to hang up some English writing in the classroom, so I plan on having the studnets write letters and decorate postcards to hang up around the room. It would be nice to have flash cards and some reading materials, like short stories that the sudents could read invidually.

Karlene said...

The supplies that I have been given by the school are slim to none, so it is easy to say which materials I wish I had. In each classroom there are three long tables for students, chairs, a whiteboard, dry-erase markers, and an eraser. There are also colored pencils, scissors, a printer, a copy-machine, and rulers available behind the secretaries’ desk. Along with the building that I work at for the institute, there is a university in affiliation with the institute. At the university there is a wide variety of technology available for teachers, such as projectors, overhead machines, and the internet. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to work at the language center in the university because I don’t have my four-year degree yet. It would be nice to have more art supplies available for written projects. A computer would be nice to have in each room so that we could show students a picture or photo of an object to quickly create that comprehension link with the word. Drawing objects on the board is a possible solution, but sometimes my artistic abilities aren’t adequate to draw complex objects. The color of the pictures or photos would also be more helpful, because I only have been given red, blue, green, and black dry-erase markers. The only materials that I have developed are worksheets and review sheets for students. Although there is a printer and copier at the teachers’ disposal, it is difficult to actually use them, because we are asked to give our sheets that we want to be copied to the secretaries a few hours ahead of the time that we need them for class. It becomes difficult because either the secretaries don’t make copies in the amount of time that you ask them, or you don’t have time because you create your lesson plans each day and there isn’t time to spend going back and forth from home to school. It would be great to have a computer for showing clips of videos and things like that. With a wide variety of tools, supplies, and materials, classes can be much more diverse and interesting for our learners. I definitely feel spoiled as a student at UWEC knowing how many materials are available for teachers and students. Coming here to teach has really brought things into perspective, and has made me a better teacher because I am used to working with less.

MC said...

In a way, I'm lucky because most of the resources I need are online. In other ways having too many resources can be a burden. I don't have to think outside the box as much because I pretty much have everything I need. It would be nice to give physical materials to my tutees. Other than that, tutoring online leaves you with abundant resources. The internet is quite amazing, as long as you know how to find things, of course.

Maggie said...

My teaching environment and situation are really different from what I expected. When I agreed to volunteer with this academy, I was under the impression that it was equipped with more resources than it actually has. Not having ample resources available at your fingertips is usually easily manageable. I just would have liked to know about their limited resources before I arrived, so I could have prepared for it and brought more materials of my own.

Currently, my main resources for teaching are chalkboards, white boards and some internet picture examples. The academy also has a professional size printer/scanner that the volunteers can use at an affordable price, which has been really helpful to liberally print worksheets, etc. I have shown one film so far in my classes in order to expose them to other examples of oral English aside from my own. I plan to play a few other audio examples of various common English´s throughout the next couple weeks, in order for them to get comfortable with the other prominent accents. I don´t have many options for playing audio. I do have a little netbook type computer that I might be able to use, but other than that my resources are slim…I suppose I could bring in a “guest speaker” to chat with us, i.e. my Irish or Australian friend! ;)

My resource wish list would include more audio and visual resources. Some type of projector or screen would be wonderful to display examples on. I would also really like to have larger boards to write on to be able to maintain a more continuous grammar lesson (depending on the grammar), being able to easily and quickly reiterate and point back to the previous example or grammar rule.

I know that my resource situation could be much worse, and maybe someday I will find myself in that situation. Anyway, even with my seemingly limited (or less than preferable) resources, my students seem to be used to it and not bothered by it. This takes a bit of the pressure of my shoulders, and from there I know that I can only do as much as I can with what I have.

Maggie said...

@ Angie Gusto

I agree completely that real, authentic photos are "where it´s at"! ;) Drawn pictures or staged pictures just aren´t as authentic or engaging as real photos (especially when they are of foreign concepts like American football, or our shopping malls or sopping centers!). Whenever I travel, I always get asked, "Maggie, why did you just take a picture of that (insert soemthing random)?" ...I am always trying to capture teaching examples :)

Maggie said...

@ MC

I like that you pointed out that having too many instant solutions to lessons, activities or examples at your finger tips can be a burden. I agree that it can really inhibit or stall your creativity when it comes to learning to be innovative as a new teacher., many of those resources usually need some serious "tweeking" before they gain my confidence. And that can just be a waste of your time when any of us could do a beautiful job creating the activity on our own :)

Chelcea said...

I have now realized how absolutely critical it is to know EXACTLY what materials you have available for whatever class you are teaching, no matter if it's a conversation class for adults or a class of 9 year olds who are just beginning to learn English… I think that is one of the most difficult things I've learned. Before I came down to Uruguay, I asked my now boss what materials I should bring and if I would need to be creating my own curriculum or not. She replied telling me that I did not need to bring anything at all because they had all of the material I could possibly need there, that they had textbooks, etc. As I said in other posts, that was true.. Ish. Right away, my boss told me she didn’t like any of the textbooks that are being used, some are too hard for the kids and some are just not practical. Also, the curriculum or basically ALL of the syllabuses for the whole school (for the English department anyway) is being revised right now. One thing that was really interesting was that I got to sit in on a meeting of all the English teachers together talking about the going to be syllabus/curriculum. I was interested in seeing how it was formed.. The boss wrote it all off of other curriculum she had found, with various standards she was looking at.. And really, I mean, some is just rough. For one of the grades, the vocabulary sets do not match the themes.. At all, nor the projects. It just doesn’t make sense. But the meeting was interesting nevertheless.
The school has photocopy machines and that's great, except you can't print anything from a computer because only the secretaries have access to computers. So, you have to email the documents to the secretaries and then they will print/make photocopies. So far, I've made some photocopies, but also done a lot of interactive activities and not so much writing, so it's been ok. Another thing that surprised me is that there are things that just seem lacking. For example, I had to ask for a white board marker, because some of the classroom teachers take theirs with them when they leave the room while I teach. .. Ownership? I don't know.
I did have internet access at the first two places I lived, so for about the first 3 and a half weeks, and now, for the second half, I do not. So I have to go to the private school I’ve subbed at a few times and where I give my one on one lessons for the TEFL testing and assessment course.. it’s a long walk from here, but that’s where I need to go to get some internet. Because of this lack of access, it really is making me think a little harder about the materials I have and preplanning a LOT more, because I need to have planned exactly what needs to be printed, photocopied, what I need to make by hand, etc. well beforehand, just in case I don’t have internet, or I need to make it and then transfer it on my zip drive, etc.
I guess I just did not realize how much access I have while being in the US. We did talk about this a reasonable amount in some of the other TEFL courses, but all the examples didn’t seem to align with what I had remembered from when I was in Uruguay last time. .. well, it really depends on the type of school you’re at. Both of the schools I’m teaching at are private, which makes things easier and harder I think because nothing is quite as solidified, but also there’s more freedom in that.

Heather said...


It's so great that you're able to adapt and make do with what you have. It must have been quite the shock to show up and find out that actually the textbooks and curriculum aren't as already-established as you had been told!

It is amazing how the materials we have available make such a big difference not just in what we're able to do, but how we do it. It sounds like you're doing a great job of planning ahead and making your lessons fit with what's available. I know I had to do a bit of rethinking when the second camp I worked at didn't have classrooms at all in the traditional sense. Some groups sat at picnic tables or in little lounge areas. I had a two-person bedroom. It worked, but I definitely wasn't going to be doing a lot of activities that required whiteboards or projectors!

Good luck with your curriculum, and getting the internet access you need!

Ashley said...

Most of the weeks that I tutor I tend to prepare a lot of print outs and worksheets. Some of them I have created on my own and others I have borrowed from sources online. Usually because I find the way they have explained or presented their particular worksheet/information quite will and I don't think I could have done it any better. Sadly though, I don't really have any particular books or supplies that I use on a regular basis.

The room that I tutor in is a small room called the "global Lounge" and it open for all exchange students or other to use. So a lot of the time while I am tutoring other students and occasionally faculty are coming and going. Thus using any kind of electronic devices to teach can be a real hassle because there is not enough room for me to bring in my own laptop, and the computers in the room are for everyone’s use. There is an overhead projector but students are not allowed to use it because it is for faculty use only. Thus in the end the only materials I am left with are the ones that I physically bring in.

Most of the time this has served me well and I am able to tutor them just fine, but sometimes I realize that the few things that I have prepared are not enough and we either get through them really quickly or i realize that I missed an explanation or such and the rest of the material becomes confusing.

The only other hassle that I have noticed when providing my own supplies and materials is the fact that there is a language barrier that I must overcome if I am to use any of the electronics here on campus. Everything, and i do mean EVERYTHING, is in Korean. Since Korean is very different from the Latin alphabet I have to allow myself extra time to go through and attempt to translate each of the steps in order to make sure I print properly, load something correctly, or even make a PowerPoint work.

Materials and supplies are definitely a must have and depending on where you are and your current situation they can change drastically which is something I knew but not something that had ever really sunk in in until now.

Ashley said...

I do have to agree with you, the internet is a wonderful place for resource. However, sometimes I find myself relying on the internet too much and not really thinking for myself. Meaning, that I will use things from the internet instead of creating something for myself and sometimes doing this makes my tutoring sessions confusing cause I sometimes have to figure out what the other person who made the material/resource was trying to accomplish. I believe there are some instances that had I just taken the time and relied on my own knowledge and understanding I could have created/come up with something infinitely more interesting and understandable. I do also know that sometimes you just don't have time to spare to spend hours thinking of the perfect way to teach something especially when you're also a student and have other things to accomplish. Then in situations like that I completely agree that the internet is a wonderful friend and companion in helping one find the right material/resources. :)

Ashley said...

You said that you usually only use PowerPoints and such for your lessons, but if your teaching to younger kids aren't you afraid or worried that they will lose interest quickly? I know when I was a kid I really preferred hands on learning with like crafts and things that I could actually tangibly touch. As i got older I grew more accustomed to the powerpoint/lecture presentation of material but deep down I still prefer hands on learning. Just something to consider. :)

la viajera gringa said...

The hardest thing for me was dealing with the materials I was given. I was open to unlimited resources, basically. I could print, copy, search, paste, color, whatever I wanted--but, the book I was using was completely difficult, ridiculous, and was filled with useless activities. This was a real damper on my lessons--the students hated the book, as did I, and it was a struggle to use it and find meaningful activities. The worst thing about it was that the tests are generated from the book, so it was almost impossible to teach without the book and have the students pass the exam. It's been a real struggle between using the book and not using the book, and it puts a lot of stress on me as a teacher to find engaging activities, especially when my class is at such an advanced level. They are at the highest level possible at the institution, so they know bullshit when they see it, and all games are easy and pointless to them. Needless to say, it's been a struggle of a class, and I didn't have the materials to support me.

Carolyn said...


I really like your idea of using clip-art! Visuals always help students to see what you are explaining.

I think I may be in a different situation than you because here, in Lithuania, I have access to a lot of technological resources and one thing that has helped me has been youtube. Many times seeing a moving representation of what I am saying, gives a different perspective. I suppose for me, with teaching my music festival lesson to the classes, it has helped to have students' examples of their work so that I can show some of it to the students and during the work time, they can look at more examples that are on the side desks to have more of an idea of what I would like.

I agree with you though! It is important to know your resources in the host country as well as plan in advance for what supplies to bring. Perhaps, the thing I will do is donate all the supplies I bought in the US such as markers, crayons, etc. and give them to the school so that way the students can continue to use these supplies.

Carolyn said...

@ La viajera gringa,

Thank you for sharing your struggles with the textbook! How have you come to deal with the struggles that you have been facing? Has it been easier to create more meaningful activities?

In my situation, I do not have a textbook because it is a camp and we are supposed to create everything on our own but many times, I feel like I am researching and researching to find out more for my homeroom class (we are represented by states) which is quite time consuming but at the same time good for me because then I have a greater knowledge about my state which I can share for later classes.

Perhaps, these struggles that you are dealing with will also help you in the future if you run into this problem again because you could use the meaningful activities that you already created and use the ones that you know have worked well.

Jennifer Speier said...

It has been way too long since my last post....which apparently shows how busy I have been. My usual classroom tools are: computer (for ppt, google, and music), hdmi cord, tv, books, worksheets, flashcards (digital and paper), big posters, dry erase board, markers and eraser. Where I am teaching now we have a very limited time to cover certain amounts of material in the books which unfortunately limits the time for outside materials.

Where I teach we have large tvs which we can project on in every room. This is a curse and a blessing at the same time. There is such a push to use technology I think often its being used for the wrong reasons and doesn't actually help the classroom. I prefer to print things out and give them to my students just to save time from writing, but we have to pay for all of our own copies.

When I was in France I had the time and the recourses to make so many of my own tools! I was really great. I made games, vocabulary tools, classroom posters and more! I brought them with me, but we switch classrooms here so it is hard to use in class when I have to set it up and take it down all the time.

Also, the internet is really spotty...It usually goes that I will spend a lot of time developing something technological and then I will get to work and there isn't internet. Super annoying.

My other recourse that I use a lot is my body. I do a lot of acting out instead of showing pictures or explaining in L1.