S. T. Fleming

Language. Education. Literacy. Creation.

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I almost had a new student last week. Almost.

Here in Lima I am beginning my own business as a teacher of English. I would like it to expand to reading and writing instruction as well but what Peruvians want most is to be able to hold conversations in English and pass standardized tests such as the TOEFL. OK, I can help with that.

With business cards printed I began to advertise in local shops by pinning my card to bulletin boards and talking to some of the shop owners. I don’t want to advertise too far away because traffic here is a bear!

Later that afternoon the phone rang. An unknown number on my new cell phone! It must be a new student; wow, that was quick! I just put the cards up.

“Where are you? I am here in Calle 10. Can I come over now?” the voice on the other end asked rather urgently.

Because I am on 10th street too I answered, “Sure, let’s meet by the flag poles out front in the park.”

A few minutes later we were sitting on the park bench out front discussing English. “Tell me a bit about yourself,” I began.

“I am originally from the Dominican Republic and I am here in Peru with a construction company. The bosses at the company want me to learn English; it is the only way I can rise to the next level. Right now I know hardly any English so I want to start as soon as possible.”

We discussed how best to get started and decided on one hour a day every day Monday through Friday. Then he pulled out his wallet. He wanted to pay me in advance for next week’s classes. I felt uncomfortable with that. When I lived in Chile and began my English teaching business there I found that there were students with whom I could not work so I wanted to have at least one class before any money exchanged hands. As I listened, I also wondered if he were really a Dominican. I lived with a Dominican for three years and this voice sounded different.

The Dominican was rather insistent. He opened his wallet showing two hundred dollar bills saying, “If I pay now I will be more committed to the work of learning English.”

“Sir, I won’t take any money today and I don’t have change.” I was more insistent. “Let’s meet on Monday and see how things go.”

“OK.” We shook hands and he continued on his way.

On Monday evening I showed up at the appointed time and place. No one was there. I called the number he had given me. Wrong number. I almost had a new student. Almost.

What happened, you ask? After many conversations with family and friends here in Lima we came to the conclusion that the Dominican wanted to pay me with counterfeit bills and receive the change in real Peruvian money. I was on the wrong end of a scam. Almost.

Lima Sky: Panza de Burro

Speaking with someone here in Lima, Peru I asked about the weather.  You see, my experience of Lima has generally been in the winter months (June, July, August).  During that time the sky is usually gray and the sun is rarely seen.  Now it is spring and the sky is still mostly gray.

When I asked about the summer months and the presence or absence of the sun I was told, “No, el cielo panza de burro se cambia en el verano.  En el verano hay sol y hace calor.”  That means, ‘No, the sky that looks like the belly of a burro changes in the summer.  In the summer there is sun and it is hot.”

I was so glad to hear that I will see more sun and I loved the description of the sky: panza de burro/ belly of a burro (also known as a donkey).

Travel Article 2

Part 1: Introduction

What is the goal of the introduction?                            http://goo.gl/QJmVUU

How do I start?

1 more way to begin…

Let’s Get Started

1. Name of the place you will be writing about (e.g. Minnesota)

2. 1st introduction: You know/ You don’t know

Minnesota, located in the United States along its northern border with Canada, is known for cold, bone chilling cold and -40ºF wind chills.  As a matter of fact, International Falls, Minnesota is called The Nation’s Icebox!  Did you know, though, that Minnesota is also the land of 10,000 lakes for fishing, swimming and water skiing? (And water skiing was actually invented in Minnesota!)  Here are some beautiful summer places to explore Minnesota.

3. 2nd introduction: In the middle of it all

As I ride my bike around Lake Harriet in the heart of Minneapolis I hear the sounds of Jazz coming from the bandshell and the ropes clanging against the sailboat masts.  A group of runners pass me going in the opposite direction making way for the older couple out for an evening stroll.  This is summer in Minneapolis and I have only begun to taste what summer in Minnesota has to offer.

The World’s Largest Lesson

Please be aware of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.  You can find more information here: https://www.tes.com/worldslargestlesson/ and you can choose your language in the upper right hand corner.  This is important!!

La lección más grande del mundo

How to Write a Travel Article

Part 1: Introduction

What is the goal of the introduction?                            http://goo.gl/QJmVUU

How do I start?

1 more way to begin…


Sidewalk Poetry

WCCO TV published a report tonight about St. Paul Sidewalk Poetry.  What fun!  And even better, they showed my poem:

Let’s Talk
Said one young man to his young bride,
“I’m so sad my dad just died.”
“Let’s talk of it,” she softly cried.
“Um, I just did,” the man replied.

If you live in St. Paul, MN and would like to enter a poem in this year’s contest follow this link:

Now in Peru!

Last Thursday night we arrived in Lima, Peru!  This will be home for the foreseeable future.

We have been enjoying the company of family and friends; we have been searching out places to live; we have been learning from and working with some amazing people; we have been looking for and creating work, ways to share what we know while continuing to grow in knowledge.

There are amazing possibilities in this city of 10 million!  If you are looking for a literacy/ language teacher and coach please let me know; I would love to talk to you about the possibilities.

Minnesota State Fair

I love the Minnesota State Fair!  I try to go at least twice a year when I am in Minnesota.  While there is lots and lots of food, there is also much to learn, arts and crafts, animals, …  If you go, be sure to check out the Education Building to learn about options for post-secondary education.  Amazing possibilities!

Here is a view from the Space Tower at the Minnesota State Fair:

Listen, Watch then Teach

When working with my students in language and literacy I am always looking for data.  I don’t, however, rely much on standardized scores and summative assessments.  While helpful in a very small way, those types of assessments give me information more about me, the teacher, than about the student.  I look for data that I can use.

Every time I have a conversation with students I make notes about their learning, sometimes mental notes and sometimes written notes.  I try to keep track of their use of language and their thinking.  Every time I read student writing I make notes about their use of language, their ability to express themselves and their accuracy.  This is the data that I use.

This is the real-time data that shows me what students know and can do right now.  That data is then turned into large group, small group and individual instruction as needed to move all students forward.  I encourage students to make mistakes, use big words, enter into debates and not be afraid.  It is through making mistakes, I tell them, that I can know what the next steps are in their learning.  All done in a supportive environment.

Give it a try; it’s not rocket science.  When we pay attention to the students they will show us what they need.  When we listen and watch, we will know what to teach.

Literacy in Minnesota

Literacy @ RiverviewIf you are interested in how Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop works in one school in Minnesota, check out the site Literacy @ Riverview.  The site gives an outline of expectations for reading and writing education.  It is a great site for new teachers who want a window into elementary literacy or experienced teachers who want a refresher.  There is also a section of resources in Spanish.

Check it out and see what you think:

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