By Kayo Arima Hawkins, contact: aardvarklearning@gmail.com My name is Kayo Hawkins and I am a Japanese person from Japan and moved to Canada 4 years ago. However I spent over 7 years living and teaching in English speaking countries (Australia & Canada). Even though having scored IELTS 8 Academic (Reading, Writing Listening & Speaking) in the past, there are still a lot to learn and improve my English as a second language. In this blog post, I would like to share some ideas in a series of post to improve your English in your busy life. **Listen to News radio stations (CBC in Canada, ABC Radio in Australia…)**
There are two benefits of listening to News Radio station like CBC. First, it is great for building your vocabulary and grammar. There are always specialists or guest speakers who talk about the topic with academic contents, vocabulary, and manner of talking like a native speaker (semantics). It is great way to learn how to speak in long sentences to add details, reasons, examples, and opinions to your statement in a short amount of time. The more you listen to it, the more chance that you would be able to imitate what you hear.Another good thing that happens to you from listening to radio is that those programs provide you something to talk about with local people. At work, at school, at playgroup, it is a nice way to start the conversation with people: “I just heard on the radio this morning that there is a thing like raccoon-proof green bin!” Personally I find the topics on the Radio so funny, as I lived in Tokyo or big cities in Japan most of my life, I never imagined the importance of racoon proof green bins :) in Canada.Talking about local news would make local people feel closer to you because that is something they can relate themselves too. Its a good speaking strategy to try one small topic in the conversation each day to participate in the conversation to be recognized that you are there as a part of the community that enjoys socializing with others.Radio programs also have Apps and social media websites to stay connected and interactive with listeners. Following these sites might motivate you to speak up and express your opinions and feeling about some issues to be shared with other people, which is another opportunity to practice reading and writing. Just simply turn on the news radio channel when you have a chance - it would surely take you to the next level of living in a new country as a member, not as a foreigner, with more curiosity and discovery of the land you decided to be. Kayo's Points to Remember:- Tune in to the local Radio Station to improve listening, vocabulary, grammar
- Imitate, repeat and practice speaking out loud the sentences, words, vocabulary you hear
- Speak in longer sentences as your confidence grows
- Everyday, try to speak about ONE topic from the radio at work, school or with native speaking friends
- Join the community as a cultural member by talking and sounding like a local native speaking person
Please feel free to add comments below, I am happy to respond. CBS Radio Links: http://www.cbc.ca/radio |

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More and more parents who can afford it are turning to after-school programs to help their children get ahead in math. Four years ago, Arsheen Abbas signed her son up for private after-school math lessons because she felt the Grade 4 subject curriculum was not rigorous enough. The Oakville, Ont., mother enrolled her son in Spirit of Math — one of several private tutoring companies operating in Ontario — in hopes of bolstering his learning at an early stage. “They are not teaching math the same way that we used to be taught,” Abbas said of the lessons her son was receiving in school. “One of our concerns, which we’ve heard from many parents, is that once (students) get to high school, all of a sudden they are flabbergasted by the amount of math or kind of math they need to do.” Abbas’ son, who is now in Grade 8 and still attends Math classes, is among a growing number of students in Ontario using private after-school tutoring businesses to boost their math education. The rise in enrolment at such programs coincides with a decline in math scores on standardized tests amongst elementary students in the province. Tutoring companies such as Kumon and Oxford Learning say they help students develop independent learning skills, and coach already high-achieving students to greater academic heights. But some critics say the for-profit programs are out of reach for less affluent families, while others caution they may not be the right fit for every child. Ontario’s Ministry of Education wasn’t able to provide data on how many students attend private tutoring programs, but Kumon, Oxford and Spirit of Math reported significant increases in enrolment over the past five years. As of October, over 28,000 students were enrolled in Kumon math programs in Ontario alone, the company said. Hannah Grosman, 17, said she noticed a big difference in her attitude toward math after enrolling at Oxford Learning about a year and a half ago. “My math marks haven’t improved exponentially, but definitely my understanding of the concepts and my confidence in my math ability has improved a lot,” the Toronto teen said. The latest results of Ontario’s standardized tests, administered by the Education Quality and Accountability Office, show math test scores among public elementary school students have not improved in recent years. Only half of Ontario’s Grade 6 students met the provincial standards for math in the 2016-2017 academic year, down seven percentage points from 2013. Meanwhile, 62 per cent of Grade 3 students met the provincial math standards, a decrease of five percentage points from 2014. For Grade 9 students, 83 per cent of those in the math academic stream met the provincial standard, the same score as the previous year, but only 44 per cent met the standard in the applied math course, a dip of one percentage point. Academic courses focus more on abstract applications of concepts, while applied courses focus on the practical. The Ministry of Education has allocated $8 million for this school year to the Ontario Focused Intervention Partnership initiative. The program, delivered through schools, helps kids from Kindergarten to Grade 6 develop literacy and numeracy skills outside the classroom through before and after-school tutoring, homework clubs and other programs, said government spokesperson Heather Irwin. Private math tutoring services, nonetheless, remain popular, though they come at a cost. Kumon franchises charge a registration fee of about $50, plus a monthly fee of $100 to $150 per subject. Prices at Oxford Learning vary from one franchise to another, but locations surveyed around Toronto charged between $385 and $420 per month for two hours each week. Spirit of Math charges an annual fee of approximately $2,200, entitling students to an hour and a half of instruction per week. Those costs are prohibitively expensive for many families, said Mary Reid, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. “We’re creating that divide between the haves and have nots and the achievement gap is widening because of that,” Reid said. Racialized kids and kids who live in lower-income neighbourhoods are more likely to end up in applied math classes, instead of the academic stream, Reid said, and those same kids, who arguably need more support in math, are also less likely to receive private, out-of-class lessons. “Before you even consider these programs, parents need to be communicating with the schools, with teachers, and asking, ‘What can I do to supplement my student’s math skills and what can you offer me?’ ” Reid said. By Ms Liz Vanderwater OCT: Email Liz: aardvarklearning@gmail.comWhy use a deck of cards to engage math learning?Simply put, decks of cards: ~ are inexpensive ~ are readily available ~ can be used individually, in pairs, or in groups ~ have multiple uses for this one resource/tool ~ are easily transportable, which means learning can take place anywhere ~ can be used at home and at school ~ facilitate connections between and amongst concepts ~ can be used for math: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, exponents ~ engages hand/eye coordination ~ are great for helping English Language Learners learn vocabulary Why are Basic Math Facts Important?Having basic math facts at your fingertips makes a great deal of sense. What better way to practice them than with a deck of cards. Here’s how: Substitute the values of the face cards with the numbers 11 (Jack), 12 (Queen) and 13 (King). Using this substitution, students can practice times tables up to 13x13=169. To add interest and variation, give the Joker cards different numerical values and include them in the math games! Knowing basic math facts: ~ means that you don’t need a calculator, or your cell phone/computer to give you the answer ~ reduces the number of mistakes made because you are not depending on technology (If you input the numbers wrong, then the answer is wrong) ~ allows you to determine when something doesn’t make sense (For example: While purchasing two specialty drinks at Starbucks® you are told that you owe $5.31. This number does not make sense because you know that one specialty drink is $5.31. So, what happened to the cost of the second drink? The total owed does not make sense relative to what you know to be true about the cost of one drink. Knowing that one drink costs just over $5 and the second drink costs just over $7, you should be expecting to pay between $12-$13) ~ allows you to quickly determine which product on the grocery shelf makes the better deal (For example: a 454 gram box of cereal is on special for $6.49, while the 1 kg box of the same cereal is priced at $12.99. Which one makes the most sense to purchase based on per unit cost alone?) How Does This Work?Start out where the student currently is. ~ If the student knows number facts and wants to improve speed and accuracy, then include all cards in the deck; decide upon the operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, exponents) to practise. Shuffle the deck of cards. Divide the deck between the two players. As each player puts a card down, the first person to get the correct answer wins. OR, as a tutor or supporting adult, let the student do all the answering, but focus on accuracy and speed. ~ If the student is new to math facts, start out with a game of concentration using arrays of 4x4 or 2x3 and gradually work up to using all 52 cards in the deck. Remember to pull out the necessary cards to ensure that they are all paired. Once they get used to the numbers on cards, then start out with addition of cards to 10, and gradually work up to 13 + 13. Then move to multiplication, then subtraction, then division. ~ If the student is learning about integers, fractions, decimals, then the use of subtraction and division of pairs of cards can be structured so that the smallest number will be the starting point. For example: cards: 3 & 4. (3 – 4 = -1); (¾=0.75) or (4/3=1.3333…repeating) Can I Do These Activities With My Child At Home? Absolutely! This practise is a great way to engage the brain in math activities, consolidate basic math skills, extend your child’s concept of number and operations, and increase self-esteem as these skills become automatic and internalized. Here are some links to provide additional resources:http://www.crewtonramoneshouseofmath.com/math-with-playing-cards.html This site has embedded videos to illustrate how to play the math card games with a young student. https://topnotchteaching.com/lesson-ideas/fun-math-games/ http://www.mathgamesandactivities.com/using-playing-cards-and-dice-to-teach-math/ https://mathgeekmama.com/best-math-card-games/ https://www.superteacherworksheets.com/blog/math-games-you-can-play-wh-a-deck-of-cards Here is a link to a video about how to play The World’s Best Math Card Game:https://youtu.be/uhDovyxyPnE By Ms Liz Vanderwater OCT: Email Liz: aardvarklearning@gmail.comWhat is a Math Journal?In most classrooms teachers provide students with time to reflect on what they have learned through the use of regular journalling. Most are familiar with the reading journal to record ideas they have had, reflections about books read and to ask questions about what they might still be wondering about. Math journalling works the same way, with the only difference being that the prompts are about math. The math prompts engage the students to reflect on their thinking. They can use pictures, numbers and/or words to help with their reflective journalling. Another name for the math journal might be problem solving journal. It is important to date math journal entries, as this will show students' progress over the course of the school year. Can I Have My Child Do A Math Journal At Home?Absolutely! What better way to connect math and home life than through the use of a math journal. One possibility might be to have the math journal prompts related to 'math at home'. Here are some ‘math at home’ journal ideas: 1) The ingredient list on a cereal box has numbers. Why do you think that is? 2) Survey a room in the house where you think math is used. Record all your ideas. 3) Students can practise operations (add, subtract, multiply, divide) using various resources found in the home (backsplashes with squares/rectangles; place settings of cutlery at the table; weight/volume of products in the house; pairs of socks x2 = total number of socks; mom made 2 dozen cookies. There are 4 children in the family. How many cookies does each child get? ...) 4) If there are 250 books (magazines/newspapers/ebooks...) in the home and the average number of pages is (choose the number), then calculate the total number of pages. Explain your thinking. 5) There are 4 children in the family and each child has an after school event (fill in the event times) to attend. The events are at 3 different times (two children need to be somewhere at the same time). There is only one car. How might you solve the problem to make sure that all 4 children get to their event on time? Why is it Important?The use of math journals is twofold: 1) it is important for the student; and 2) it is important for the teacher (which comes back around to benefiting the students). Important for StudentsMath journals can be used in any grade. As early as Kindergarten, students can draw pictures to demonstrate their understanding of concepts. When the math journal follows them into the next grade, their growth and development in mathematical thinking is easily observed. As students use the math prompts to reflect on their math thinking (by putting their ideas down on paper), they need to organize their thoughts, as well as clarify and record their thinking. Regardless of the age and stage of the student, using pictures, numbers and/or words is an effective strategy to help students express their understanding. Student’s use of math journals also helps them to consolidate their learning of math concepts and engage their higher order thinking skills, given the right type of prompt. Important for TeachersStudent math journals can play a key role in helping to inform teacher instruction. This invaluable assessment tool can provide teachers with information about: ~ how the student thinks (e.g. a student's approach to problem solving); ~ what the student thinks; ~ where students' strengths are; ~ where the student/s appear confused; and ~ what, if any, misconceptions there might be. Armed with the above information, teachers can then provide the appropriate next steps for the students. Following up with another math journal entry will further inform teacher instruction. How Does It Work?The math journal can be as simple as a small notebook, or as complex as a multi-tabbed binder that separates the math journal entries by math strand. For example: The current five Ontario curriculum math strands include: Numeration and Number Sense, Data Management and Probability, Measurement, Geometry and Spatial Sense, and Patterning and Algebra. The math journals can be line-ruled or blank or some combination. When the journal pages are blank, then students don't feel restricted by the lines and any use of pictures to help demonstrate understanding is not impeded by 'noise'. While initial instruction to complete a math journal entry might come from the teacher, there is no reason why the student cannot independently complete a math journal entry (either at school, or at home) to help with trying to figure things out as well as to help with consolidation of concepts. Math journal prompts and questions need to be open ended enough to enable student use of different strategies. Often, mathematical situations have multiple ways to solve the problem. If students are restricted by either the type of prompt, or question asked, then the journal entry may not give a true and clear picture of what the student is thinking. Some Math Journal PromptsHere are some journal prompts to get started: 1) Today I learned that ... 2) I liked today's lesson about ... because ... 3) I was confused about the part that/when ... because ... 4) The strategy that I used to solve the problem was ... 5) I counted by ... to get the answer because ... 6) I am still wondering about ... because ... 7) I am still wondering about ... 8) My partner and I ... 9) The definition of ... is ... 10) I know that I am right because ... Here are some links to provide additional information:https://www.exemplars.com/resources/student-communication/using-journals-in-mathematics http://www.k-5mathteachingresources.com/math-journals.html https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-use-math-journals-2312417 https://www.exemplars.com/resources/student-communication/using-journals-in-mathematics Here is a link to a video about math journals:https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/math-journals |