Teaching In Croatia

Hi everyone! Finally back and able to breathe! πŸ™‚
Let me explain my absence.
This past month has been really stressful! All thanks to teaching! I had to pass my state exam.

Let me say at the beginning that I would really love to hear your thoughts and experiences about this subject! I am really interested to hear how it is in your country?! Is it like this or different?
In Croatia it is something like this…

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Joking aside (although it is kind od true :/), let’s go from the beginning. In Croatia,Β  elementary school is compulsory and free for all. There are 8 grades. These are broke down into two cycles. The first one is from grades 1-4 when children have only one teacher for all subjects (that’s me). The second cycle is from grades 5-8 when they have a different teacher for each subject and a head (class) teacher who takes care of them (this is also me because I can teach English from grades 5-8).

Now, I graduated from a 5 year Faculty for Teacher’s Education. I have my diploma, but it doesn’t stop there. You have to work for a year first and take a state exam if you want your diploma to be worth anything. Without the state exam it is considerably harder to find a job and your pay is looow. So you need to take it because, at the end, your 5 year diploma isn’t worth anything without it. :/

What does it look like?
It consists of three parts. A written essay,Β  a class you have to have in front of a comitee (4-5 people) and an oral.
The essay was complicated for me because I didn’t know where to start studying! It can be about anything! The topics are so diverse – ranging from psychology, methodology, didactics, important legal documents concerning school, teaching methods, communication, school life in general… and you have to connect the topic with the class you will be teaching.
You choose two subjects you would like to teach and they make the final decision. One subject isΒ either maths, Croatian or science and the other is PE, art or music. I chose science and PE, and I got PE. After the class, there is an oral.
The professor who is an expert in the class you just had asks you the theory behind his subject, the methodology.
Second person goes through your work journal which you have to keep for a year (classes you’ve held and you’ve been to, your professional development etc). He/She asks you about the journal, the essay you’ve written and teaching methodology in general. The questions can be about any subject you teach from 1st to 4th grade.
And finally, there is the principal. He asks you about the law and the legal documents concerning school life and the State.

However, if you pass the class and oral, but fail the essay, you have failed all! And they don’t tell you if you passed the essay until the very end! If you pass all of this stress, congratulations – you are a teacher now (because the diploma you already have isn’t enough :\).

I really hope they don’t torture you with all of this in your country because it really is a lot of work and studying and not to mention the stress! 😦 I can honestly say this has been the most stressful thing in my life so far! I didn’t go out, I was studying all the time, I couldn’t sleep or eat! It was awful!
But I am pleased to say I have passed my state exam! =D And let me tell you I fell soooo much lighter and happier and that I am finally my own teacher now! =) I didn’t feel this good when I graduated! X)

This is the first reason why I haven’t been around. The other one, which has given me much food for thought, will be for the next time. A lot od really big life changes are coming! It’s kind od scary! :/
But I have to go now. Time to see all of my friends I didn’t have the time for during the hell month.

Be good! πŸ™‚
And comment your thoughts and experiences! Xo

Who stole the cookie?!

I can’t believe I didn’t try this earlier!

This is so simple and so great!

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I tried it with 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade and they loved it! They could have played it the whole 45 minutes! I thought 3rd graders would be too ”old” for it, but they’re not. 4th graders probably are, haven’t tried it with them yet.

Here is a link to You tube (the most realistic I could find):

There are several versions.

Everybody: Who stole/took the cookie from the cookie jar? Ivan stole/took the cookie from the cookie jar!
Pupil: Who me?
E: Yes, you!
P: Not me!/ Couldn’t be!
E: Then who?

The pupil then nominates someone and so on.

I even sewn a little cookie which they love.

I think next time I’ll adopt it for when we learn food.

I’ll show a pic of a food we’re looking for (e.g. carrot) and the text would go: Who stole the carrot from the fridge?Β 
You just have to sing it so it would fit the rhythm, but it could work!

Anyway, a great game! πŸ™‚

Counting Choir

Two posts in one day. Wooow, I’m on fire! πŸ™‚

This one is separate because it’s about teaching.

I tried one game today and it turned out great so I want to share.

I don’t know what it’s called, but I’ll call it Counting Choir (you’ll see why).

It is a great game for learning new vocabulary and also revising it because it’s got lots of repetition (also a good time filler). The only thing is that the aimed vocabulary has to be something in a specific order (like numbers, days or months).

As an example I’ll take numbers now.

You as a teacher start counting and say 1. Anyone from the class has to continue counting and say 2. But the thing is, there is no order in which the children go one after the other. It is totally up to them. If two or even more of them say the next number at the same time, you start all over again. They have to listen really carefully to know when to continue and what to say and they are repeating all the time.

It sound pretty simple, but it is hard to get to 10. It will always happen that they start talking as a choir πŸ˜‰ all of them at the same time. I think it works better with smaller groups, not so much with classes of 30, but try it and see.

I tried it with my 4th graders today and they loved it. We did months. I plan to do days and months with the 3rd graders and numbers with 2nd graders.

Do you know this game? Have you tried it?

Β 

Present Simple vs. Present Continuous For The Little Ones

Haven’t posted about English in a long time, but I came across a good exercise for children to see the difference between the use of Present Simple and Present Continuous.

There is always a problem with that. They learn everything in PC from the first grade. They are so used to it that when PS is finally introduced they are confused (especially because in Croatian you translate it the same).

I took this idea from a collegue that theaches in higher grades (from 5th and 8th) and she said it was great for them. A bit confusing in the beginning, but once they got the hang of it and understood really why and when you use which tense, it is great.

I tried it in the 2nd and 3rd grade and I’m really happy how it turned out.
Here is how it goes!
You don’t need anything. You just have to stand in front od the class and you tell them sentences using PS and PC. They answer only with YES, NO or MAYBE.

E.g.
I’m talking English. Yes.
I’m talking French. No.
I’m jumping (you do jump). Yes.
I talk Croatian. Yes.
I’m drinking coffee. No.
I drink coffee. Maybe (Because they don’t know the truth if you really drink it or not).

1. First I start with PC only and I put NOW at the end od the sentence (I’m jumping now.) to emphasise that PC is only for action that are happening right now.
2. Next, I stay with PC, but I tell them actions which are not true. I tell them I’m jumping, but I’m actually standing. So the answer is No.
When they see the difference between those two situations, I put PS in.
3. Add PS sentences. They will answer everything with yes at first, but they will quickly understand. Put same sentences one after another like the one I wrote above with the coffee (so the same sentence, but one in PC and one in PS). Do this a couple of times. They will see the diffrence.
4. Of course, take a minute and ask them why they answer something yes and sometnig no. There will always be one child who understands that PC is for NOW and PS is for something in GENERAL. When we get to this point, I always ask them to explain that. They will repeat the rule a lot and remember it.

And that’s it! Hope you understood me?!
I was really surprised and happy when I saw how quickly they caught on! I will spend a couple od minutes on it from time to time just to make sure they don’t forget it.

Do you have the same problems with PC and PS? How do you deal with it?