Teach English in LiujiAchang Zhen - Jingzhou Shi

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As an assistant elementary school teacher, I know the importance of creating flashcards for my students. These visual tools are essential in decreasing the need for me to use my students’ L1. Flashcards are also useful for games and activities. However, it is important not to limit yourself to creating flashcards. There any many different types of materials that can be created and used in the classroom, but I will limit myself to worksheets with puzzles that can be used for writing practice or recognition skills. I will not be covering worksheets used for class speaking and interviewing activities. Many young learners enjoy puzzle challenges, and a creative teacher can piggyback on this excitement. Worksheets can familiarize students with spelling of common words, while also allowing students to practice writing. Learning to write the English alphabet is a challenge that should not be ignored when working in a country that uses different characters. Jumbles are made by scrambling the letters of a word. there are a few ways to accommodate for different abilities. For low level abilities, I might do a 7 word jumble with all seven words and pictures beside the un-jumbled words at the bottom of the page. Although this seems very easy, it can be difficult for those who are unfamiliar with the English alphabet. For higher level students, the hints might only be images. Crosswords exercise similar skills to those in jumbles. The range of English ability will dictate whether it is an activity where students are simply looking at a list of words and counting blank spaces to write in missing letters, or if students can be prompted with hints to recall words on their own. Word search worksheets are helpful for letter recognition. For lower ability, you may pare it down to simply identifying a specific letter within a bunch of random letters. For example, circling all the q’s would be quite the challenge with p’s, b’s and d’s thrown into the mix. For more variation, you could do this with several different fonts and follow up with an explanation that we see a lot of variation in the way a or g become stylized in fonts. Another variation of word search or a letter search could be a sort of “I spy” page with various letters hidden within a busy picture. Unfortunately this kind of activity is much better printed in colour and therefore may not be a budget friendly activity. If a teacher is artistically inclined using mazes to spell out words is also great fun for lower level students. Higher level students might enjoy having an English riddle to solve by following the letters in a maze, with most puzzle activities a final challenge riddle or question adds an opportunity for teachers to introduce puns and word play to their classes. Using symbols to create your own cryptograms can also be a fun challenge. Varying the completeness of the cryptogram code legend is a simple way of either making this more or less challenging. If you want to let students make their own secret phrases, consider reassigning the alphabet letters. That way students will be practicing writing alphabet letters instead of symbols. When drilling alphabet recognition, we often overlook the importance of knowing alphabetic order. A worksheet puzzle that can help drill this would be making a sort of connect the dots using letters instead of numbers. For classes that are starting to learn lower case, the order can alternate between the upper- and lower-case form of each letter. For very young learners, the reward can be that they also have time to colour in the image after they have connected the dots. I create these by simply laying tracing paper over an image and drawing 26 or 52 dots along the outline of the image and then lettering them in order. For less confident students, it can be helpful to have the alphabet written at the bottom of the page so they can simply follow along. In conclusion, puzzles can be fun and challenging while being educational. It is necessary to take into account the level of your students’ abilities when creating worksheet puzzles. However with an open mind most puzzles can be adapted for use with any level student.