* Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps, Videos

Amazing Free Digital Resources for Teaching Phonics

Amazing Free Resource for Teaching Phonics | Best Youtube Phonics Videos

As a Youth Literacy Advisor tutoring struggling readers in rural Jamaica, I started out with no curriculum, limited resources, and no formal teaching experience to lean on. Fortunately, thanks to the opportunity to shadow another Peace Corps Volunteer, I learned about an invaluable resource at my disposal.

Over my two years of service in the school, this one tool saved me much-needed energy and increased the effectiveness of my teaching. It kept my students’ attention better than any game I could conjure, and it clearly helped concepts stick better in their memory.

I’m talking about youtube videos.

My Own Jamaican Letter Sound Video!

Be the first to watch!

I’ve been using all the videos below for two years now, but not one of them was made specifically for Jamaican students. The accents in the shows are either American or British, and they refer to things like yachts and violins (which have little meaning to the kids).

Because phonics is such an important skill that is often missing from Jamaican students’ repertoire, I used the videos I had, and it was effective. But all along, I was looking for something truly Jamaican. I didn’t find anything, so I finally ended up making my own video.

I drew the pictures based on phonics materials I found in Jamaican schools. Then I trained a bunch of my students to do the chant and featured their voices in the audio. Resources were limited, and I wish the quality was better. I hope that some day, someone else will take it to the next level. Regardless, my dream is that this video can be used as a resource across the island- by Peace Corps Volunteers and Jamaican teachers alike.

Please help me share it!

How to Use Videos Offline

kids watching show

In Peace Corps, internet access is not always guaranteed. Fortunately, you don’t actually need the internet at school to use youtube videos in your lessons!

Using sites like SaveVid, you can actually download them in formats like .wmv, mp4, .mov, etc. When I was starting out, I basically went to the internet cafe and searched youtube for the concepts I needed to reinforce with my students (i.e. letter sound song, short vowel sounds). I then copy and pasted the youtube URL into SaveVid, saved the files to a thumb drive, and transferred them onto an iPad or laptop for later use.

Best Free Videos for Teaching Phonics

Continue reading “Amazing Free Digital Resources for Teaching Phonics”

* Life Updates, * Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps

Getting Started At Work

After almost a month at our site, we are both just starting to scratch the surface of our work projects. I (Michelle) have transitioned away from observing classes and started the initial phase of my own literacy pull-out groups. That means, I gathered lists from each teacher of students who are reading below grade level (the total came out to 28% of the school), and now I am in the process of meeting one-on-one with each of those students.

Continue reading “Getting Started At Work”

* Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps, Videos

PCJ Education Sector Volunteers

Today is our last day of “Hub training” where the eleven of us education volunteers have been meeting for the past five weeks. We have successfully completed our practicum assignments, which involved tutoring two primary school students in literacy over a period of two weeks, as well as other education and patois language-related assignments. We’ve heard from a number of presenters, including several from various branches of Jamaica’s Ministry of Education, and we’ve even toured some important sites to the country’s education system on our field trips. As the Jamaicans say, we’re “ready fi touch di road” (sort of like: “ready to hit the road running”). They often tell us that although five weeks is not enough to prepare us for everything, we are prepared enough to begin our work and go until our next training in September (Early Service Conference). We’ve also learned a lot outside the classroom, namely with our wonderful host families who feed, house, and watch out for us while we’ve been here. We will be leaving our host families on Sunday afternoon and heading back to Kingston where we’ll (finally!!) find out our site placements for the next two years.

A 5th grade class on break tells me all about what they’re learning in school

I’ve been working on several videos lately but in an effort to get something posted quickly and have it not be too lengthy, the first video (posted above) is simply some interviews of the education trainees who have spent the last five weeks with me. Hopefully you’ll get a taste for the diversity of volunteers who are in my group as well as some idea of what it’s like to be an education trainee. The next video will include more of the sites and activities we’ve experienced in our time at Hub training. Until then…