A half-term has ended and so much has happened already! New students, new classes, new systems, new parents and maybe even a new school.
If you’re like me: following a British/American academic year, then you’ve probably given your older kids some mid-term exams. In my case, I’ve already had a parent’s consultation evening in which I could discuss the results.
This time of the academic year is a great opportunity to assess your students in some way. It allows you to identify problems early on, so that you can ‘nip them in the bud’, so to speak.
One key problem area for many students is their use of subject-specific language in examinations. Mark Schemes for external exams, such as iGCSEs, GCSEs, ‘A’ – Levels, the IB Diploma and many others, are often very rigorous with no room for compromise when it comes to key words.
In short, if students don’t use the correct subject-specific terminology, then they perform poorly in examinations. This is a problem that native English speakers often face, as well as students with English as an Additional Language (EAL).
What follows next are my top three strategies for helping students learn key words. I hope you find them useful, and if you have any strategies that you really like then please do comment using the form at the bottom of the page.
#1: Vocabulary Journals
I already have a number of students who I’ve identified as needing one of these. It’s such an effective way to boost confidence and performance, but it does require a bit of organisation and leadership from the teacher. Here are the steps:
Step 1:Tell the students to get a special notebook. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Just a cheap spiral bound one will do just fine.
Step 2:The students should divide the first page into three columns:
For example: Moment, The force applied to a lever multiplied by the distance from the pivot, mo-men-t
For an EAL student you can include a fourth column:
In this column, the student can write the word in his/her native language.
Step 3:The students should write down the key words they learn every week into this journal, along with all of the other information.
Step 4:CRUCIAL! The key words and information must be CHECKED every week. Check the words, the meaning and the pronunciation (you can even get the students to say the words to you – this reinforces their memory of the terminology).
For native translations you may have to simply trust the students with that one. You could possibly spot check these every so often with an MfL teacher, but that’s not always possible (e.g. if the native language of the student is Japanese, but the school doesn’t have a Japanese teacher).
To save you time, you could get small groups of students to check each others’ journals. This would also work well with groups of EAL students who all speak the same native language.
JOUNALING IS SUCH A POWERFUL TEACHING TOOL, BUT IT IS SELDOM USED BY TEACHERS! Make use of it!
#2: Play Vocabulary Games
I’m a HUGE advocate of these. They are so much fun, and can be used by students of almost any age! Here are may favorites:
This quick game is so easy: all you need is a whiteboard, whiteboard markers and class of kids. It’s a great game for consolidating key vocabulary, and is perfect for E.A.L. learners.
Here’s a short video showing a quick clip of me playing ‘Splat’ with my students (I will include some more lengthy clips soon, but this is a good start):
Another easy game. This time, students randomly pick out written words from a hat (or cup, beaker, container, etc.), and then they have to explain their word to the class (without saying the word). The students who are listening have to guess what the word is.
Who am I?
A very simple game. All you need are post-it notes and a class full of energized students! Great fun. Perfect for reinforcing key vocabulary and concepts.
There are some more games that you can play with too (no pun intended). Details can be found at my blog post here. Also, if you’re looking for a great book filled with practical and easy-to-implement vocabulary games, then check out this great book (one of my favourites): Vocabulary Games for the Classroom by Lindsay Carleton and Robert J. Marzano.
#3: Highlight key words in your marking
There’s a number of ways that this can be done:
Refer to key words by writing questions on the piece of work (e.g. what’s the name of this part?)
You could highlight less technical terminology and get the students to make it more technical (e.g. ‘movement energy’ becomes ‘kinetic energy’)
You could circle key words that are spelt incorrectly and get the kids to look them up online or in a dictionary, and change the spelling
You could do some peer assessment and get all the kids to write down words spelt or written incorrectly on little bits of paper. These words can then be your ‘feeder vocabulary’ for the games given above.
Your school may have it’s own strategy for key words, so check that first!
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NOTE TO READER: The author wants to make it clear that all people should be respected regardless of gender, sexuality, race or religion. As civilized people, we should be tolerant towards those who are law-abiding and have different opinions, behaviors, cultures or beliefs to us. This article acts as an introduction to the issue of gender-identity education in schools and childhood and the effect this has had, and is having, on masculinity and ‘manliness’ in some cultures and countries.
Five years old and I was glued to the TV watching WWF wrestling. The wrestlers’ muscles, their machoness, their swagger, their attitude, their power – I wanted it all. I even had the toy wrestlers and the ring, and I and my brother would fight it out (often literally, which really annoyed my mum).
I was a boy, for sure. No-one could tell me otherwise. At that age I didn’t really like to play with girls and I opposed everything deemed ‘girly’. I hated the colour pink, and I would never, ever play with girls’ toys.
At that time I was surrounded by good male role-models. As a child of the eighties, I was lucky enough to enjoy ‘film night’ at my dad’s house every Saturday. Me, my brother and my dad would watch movies like ‘Predator’, ‘The Terminator’, ‘Enter the Dragon’, ‘Lethal Weapon’, ‘Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves’ and ‘Die Hard’.
The male heroes of these movies were presented as strong, intelligent, caring, brave and moral men. They stood up for people in need, they weren’t afraid of bullies or opposition and they did what was right, no matter what. These traits of masculinity were further embedded by the instruction of my father, and later by the great coaches and instructors I had in Shotokan Karate classes (which I still do to this day) and the Army Cadet Force.
My coaches were not misogynists or chauvinists. They wanted me to do well. They encouraged me to fend for myself and not to rely on my parents too much – to take on the role of a contributor and a leader, to help my parents out and to be a good role model: a male role model. A man of courage, morality and decency. A person who worked-hard, but who would never disrespect someone who was underachieving or who needed help.
I was secure in my identity as a boy and a young man. My early childhood was filled with good male-role models and I didn’t need special classes or training to know that I was a male. My security and identity as a ‘young man’ happened naturally, as it does for almost every boy. In fact, my Year 2 teacher once made me sit exactly on my seat with a very convincing threat: “Richard, if you sit on another seat you’ll turn into a girl!”. I stayed put! It worked!
Fast forward to today and we’re looking at a totally different dynamic. The teacher who said those words to me 30 years ago could get into some trouble for saying those same words today. This is concerning.
The Feminisation of Society?
A number of high-profile individuals have spoken publicly about the feminisation of men in recent times. One such person is Camille Paglia, Professor at the University of Arts in Pennsylvania, who stated in an interview for the Wall Street Journal that “What you are seeing is how a civilization commits suicide”. In the interview, she makes the point that ignoring the biological differences between men and women risks undermining Western civilization.
Some critics blame the cosmetics industry, saying that adverts portraying the modern man as prim, pretty and preen like a woman are contributing to the feminine behaviors that so many are now observing in modern men. Most notably, Tomi Lahren, political commentator at Fox News, went so far as to say that “growing a beard and wearing a flannel shirt doesn’t make you a man if you still can’t change a light bulb,” before concluding that ‘helpless’ young men now prove to be “slim pickings for women”. She also caused a storm with this very thought-provokingtweet, suggesting that millennial men would be unfit for military service :
As I watch millennial men struggle to lift their bags into the overhead bin I am reminded how f'd we are if there's a draft.
But is there any truth in all of this subjective criticism of modern men? What does science have to say on the matter?
Biological Male Parameters
In a studycompleted last year, researchers discovered that the grip strength of a sample of college men had declined significantly between 1985 and 2016. In fact, it has declined so much – from 117 pounds of force to just 98 pounds, that it now equals that of older Millennial women. The average college male now has an equal hand strength to a 30-year-old female.
Alongside this concerning decrease in male physical strength, sperm counts and testosterone levels continue to plummet. According to researchers, sperm counts in men from America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe have fallen by a whopping 50 percentin just under 40 years. Testosterone levels have shown a similar trend, falling by 1% per year since the 1980s.Another studyof Danish men revealed similar results, with declines in testosterone consistently above 10% among men born in the 1960s, compared to those born in the 1920s.
For some men, the shame of discovering why they can’t conceive a child is almost unbearable. A number of my friends and former colleagues have had the bombshell of “You’re infertile” dumped on them mercilessly by a doctor. One of my friends sadly took to alcohol after finding out why he and his wife couldn’t conceive a child. Soon after, the alcohol took his life.
As infertility clinics pop up left right and centre across the world, not enough is being done to address the emotional consequences of male infertility on couples and on men, in particular. The root causes of such drastic increases in male infertility are also not being addressed or even questioned by many of the doctors who are all too happy to cash in on the booming business of fertility treatment: making huge profits in the process.
One may think that there should be a massive drive to provide provision for boys in schools and encourage positive male development, especially when one considers the evidence just mentioned. Men are becoming increasingly effeminate; so surely the schools must be doing something to address this issue, right? Surely there must be a drive to increase the profile and understanding of masculinity with projects such as male-identity classes, increased provision for competitive sports and a big drive to provide nutrition in schools that offers wide-spectrum support for developing boys and girls.
In fact, in Western cultures, the exact opposite seems to be happening. The feminisation of men and boys is at best tolerated, and at worst: encouraged.
Who do you think should be a guest speaker at your 5 year old’s class? A doctor? A policeman? An ambulance driver? A firefighter? An author? A company manager?
How about a drag queen? Surely a man with makeup, high heels and women’s clothes who looks like he (she?) just walked out of a nightclub sets a brilliant example for others to follow. It’s so progressive!
Sarcasm aside, that’s exactly what happened at the Brooklyn Public Library in Park Slope, New York City when kids were invited to ‘Story Hour’delivered by a lipstick-wearing guy. Now there are plans to expand this model across the UK,as a new drive has been set up to get drag queens into British primary schools to read stories to kids. Apparently, this is all in aid of LGBT(QLMNOP……) awareness.
With questions such as “Who wants to be a drag queen when they grow up” (to which a number of small children raised their hands), and songs such as “The hips on the drag queen go ‘swish’, ‘swish’, ‘swish’, all day long”, one can’t help but wonder if the world has gone a little mad. Was this drag queen event intended to inform the children about one minority lifestyle choice, or was it intended to promote and advertise the lifestyle of a drag queen?
This also got me wondering: should kids as young as three really be exposed to this kind of activity/event/propaganda (I’m not sure what to call it. Watch the video from the Associated Press and judge for yourself). Shouldn’t young kids be focussing on learning their times’ tables, language acquisition, playing with toys, playing with their friends, developing ICT skills, developing social and interpersonal skills and acquiring subject-specific content?
The ‘victimhood narrative’
Dr Joana Williams, a lecturer in higher education at Kent University, is one of a number of academics who has spoken outagainst the kind of gender-biased and gender-confusing influences that seem to be permeating our schools.
Dr Williams argues that schools, universities and feminist campaigners, which should be promoting women’s rights, are now doing more damage than good.
In her new book, titled ‘Women vs Feminism: Why We All Need Liberating from the Gender Wars’, Dr Williams argues that“fashionable” modern feminism involves telling young women that misogyny and sexual harassment are commonplace. She claims that teaching young girls that there are insurmountable barriers in life caused by the widespread ‘toxic masculinity’ of men causes a ‘give up’ attitude to be embedded which stops girls from persevering in life. Additionally, as if in a confirmation of the Orwellian ‘newspeak’ predicted in the epic novel, ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’, Dr Williams states:
“So if someone pays you a compliment [you are told] that is outrageous. You are told it is not a joke, it is a sexual attack, it is “everyday sexism” or a micro-aggression.”
One has to wonder how this ideology affects boys and young men, and their sense of confidence in relationships. Do young men feel empowered to approach a girl and ask for a date these days, or are they afraid that they’ll be labelled a ‘misogynist’? Only time will tell what the long-term effects will be.
The War Against Boys
Christina Hoff Sommers, author of ‘The War Against Boys‘, explains how boys are getting a raw deal and how good intervention programmes can have a dramatic and positive effect on the attainment of boys in school. She argues that boys are behind girls when it comes to performance in exams, and she offers some compelling reasons why it’s high time to start addressing this problem. If you’re looking for a very interesting and informative watch, then this video is for you!:
Gender Identity vs. Sexuality
One issue that many in the ‘gender fluid’ community cannot answer fully is this – how do you inform small children about drag queens, lesbians, transgenders and all of the other sub-categories without touching on the subject of sex and relationships? Does a drag queen want to have an intimate relationship with a woman, a man, a transvestite or what? Discussions and ‘story hours’ featuring LGBT issues can’t help but involve the topic of sexuality – the two are intertwined.
Should small children ever be taught about about sex? Shouldn’t the gender binary: a biological male and a female in a relationship together, be equally taught and discussed in schools? After all, that is the reproductive unit that conforms with nature’s rules. Shouldn’t gender-identity education be taught alongside sex-education, when boys and girls are going through adolescence and are better able to process the information being presented to them? Once again, is it really necessary for small children to learn about drag queens and so-called ‘gender non-conformists”. Can small children really understand and process these concepts?
With sperm counts falling sharplyaround the world for the past three to four decades, isn’t it in the interest of human survival to value and cherish the traditional family unit above all others?
Some high profile individuals have vehemently spoken out against the homosexual influences that some would say are permeating school communities around the world. Take Fred Nile, New South Wales MP and conservative morals campaigner, who stated:“My observation is that teenagers are going through sexual development and [it] can be quite dangerous, I think, to promote homosexuality in schools to children,”
Fred goes a step further than me: warning about the dangers of pervasive homosexuality promotion with teenagers. Once again, the difference between ‘promoting’ and ‘informing’ is a crucial consideration here.
Who wears the trousers?
In an apparent act of typical teenage defiance, a group of boys at Isca Academy in Exeter, England, decided to wear skirts to schoolas they were banned from wearing shorts. As the mid-July temperatures soared higher than they had since 1976, boys at Isca were noticeably annoyed that their female counterparts could wear cool skirts.
When they protested that the girls were allowed bare legs, the school, probably in the tone of sarcasm, said the boys could wear skirts too if they chose. So on Wednesday 21st June, a handful brushed off the embarrassment and did so. The extent of the rebellion increased on Thursday when at least 30 boys wore skirts.
Why the widespread coverage of this story? I guess it is an interesting story of masculine (?) defiance in the face of ‘tyranny’, but why the global attention? Was this really such a high-profile story? Was this an unmissable opportunity for the ‘progressives’ to jump on the gender-identity bandwagon to further confuse people and promote a particular agenda? Perhaps this was just too juicy a story to miss, and news outlets knew that people would be interested. Great for sales?
The War on Fatherhood
Taking this further, the war on masculinity doesn’t end with male identity in schools.
Fathers do one of the hardest jobs in the world. My dad was a role model in every way, often going the extra mile to make sure I was fed, clothed and safe. That wasn’t always easy for my family.
Nowadays, in an apparent act of psychological warfare, the role of the father is often reduced to the image of the beer-guzzling Homer Simpson layabout-type. Take Jezebel magazine, for example, which shows no apparent bias with this comment:
Father’s Day means a lot of things for a lot of different people. Maybe you were lucky enough to score a great dad, the kind that made you pancakes on weekends, coached your soccer team and sang off-key to Bob Seger on long car trips—but always, unmistakably loved you.
And maybe Father’s Day means something totally different to you. Maybe your father passed away, maybe he was abusive, maybe he was never there to begin with. Maybe he was this douche (man-degrading video follows):
For the latter group, Father’s Day is often a painful reminder of what others have but you don’t, and those stories deserve to be told, too.
So what does Father’s Day mean to you? Share your stories—the good, the bad and the ugly—in the comments below.
A balanced invitation? I tend to disagree. Lauren Southern, a rare voice of reason in our confusing world of gender-skewing propaganda, summarises the war on fathers brilliantly in this short video (WELL WORTH A WATCH):
Gender identity classes should be taught in schools. We should teach our young people to be tolerant and accepting of gender-fluid individuals. However, does the promotion of minority gender identities (e.g. transgenders) above the traditional gender binary serve any purpose except to confuse young people further?
I think it’s unnecessary for three-year-old kids to learn about the gender identity issues of minorities, but it is appropriate for gender identity classes to be given to older kids who are better able to process the information and make more informed decisions about their lives.
Now, more than ever, young boys and girls need positive male role models in their lives. Not chauvinists and misogynists, but hard-working, principled and decent individuals who undoubtedly identify themselves as ‘men’.
Any education on gender identity presented in schools should be thoroughly regulated and designed with a proper curriculum focus and should aim to inform about gender-identity. Such a programme should never aim to promote any gender-identity minority.
More needs to be done to determine the appropriate age at which gender-identity education should begin. Perhaps it is best delivered to adolescent teens when they already know the scientific basis of sex and the indisputable role that the ‘gender-binary’ plays in the propagation and survival of the human species.
Fathers should be respected just as much as mothers, and the important role that fathers play in the traditional family unit should be taught through a school’s PSHE or social studies program
Alongside sex-education, health education is vital so that the issue of falling male sperm counts can be addressed. The role that WiFi, cellular devices, food additives and pollutants in the air have on sperm count, though not properly understood, should be presented through project work as an exploration for all high-school students to work on. A number of factors are undoubtedly leading to plummeting sperm counts globally, and the survival of the human race is dependent upon fixing this problem and raising awareness of possible contributing factors.
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