Classroom Case Study

We have been working with Stephanie Moreland, English teacher at College Notre Dame des Collines in Rive de Gier, France, who has been using our Radio Ron's Postcards from Borneo series with her class of students in the "5eme" year.  Stephanie's class comprises children aged 11-12 years old who are learning English as a second language. 


The challenge for any teacher is how to make teaching a new language interesting especially for "modern" young kids.  These are children who have smart phones, computers and are part of the new "on demand and instant information" generation.  For some, books are boring and so teachers need to use as many different approaches as possible to entice their students to love to read.  As their English vocabulary might be limited, Stephanie wanted to extend the use of books she normally uses in the classroom, that might appeal and yet not be "too young" in content.  Whilst Sandra Arthur's  Radio Ron's Postcards from Borneo series was written for a younger audience (mother tongue English children in the 5-8 year old classes) the environmental information contained at the back of the story and the general theme of Borneo was an attractive topic for older children.



 
 Book Overview :  Crocodile Attack features Borneo’s rainforest as its backdrop for the curious story of “Radio Ron” who takes a journey with Borneo's Dayak warriors.  This is a vivid, fun and thought-provoking adventure book for children that is also proving popular with children who are learning English as a second language.   The book includes a short story about Radio Ron’s adventures and also includes games, puzzles and environmental information about orangutans.           



Stephanie received a copy of our "six week classroom kit" programme and has been following our classroom content suggestions as well as developing her own material to extend the learning opportunities for her class. 
If you would like to receive a copy of our Radio Ron Classroom Activity kit please send an email to
admin @ SandraArthurBooks.com




INTERVIEW WITH STEPHANIE MORELAND - TEACHER

We were delighted to interview Stephanie to learn more about her experience of working with our books. 

Q.   Why did you choose to read Radio Ron's Postcards from Borneo with your students?

I felt having a personal connection to the author would be an awesome and impressive angle to share with my students.  As I am leading a special advanced English group, I was fortunate to have more scope to select books outside the normal book selection range.  For the students, I felt this might be the only chance they would receive to study an interesting, far flung place such as Borneo.

Q.   What was the reaction to the book by your students?

My students were surprised by the theme and wanted to know why I had selected Radio Ron's Postcards from Borneo.  They were very interested that I knew the book's author which sparked attention and discussion,  and furthermore they found it interesting due to the additional activities I included in the class work.

Q.   Did the students learn new vocabulary or did the story simply reinforce words they already knew?

They did not know the vocabulary contained in the book.  I also had to introduce the past tense.  So definitely the book was a real "word builder" aid and it was helpful to improve their English vocabulary and extend their reading experience and knowledge.

Q.   Did you demonstrate the Audio Book version to allow the children to hear the story as well as read it?

I do not have WIFI or internet connection in my classroom nor an ipad to play the story.  However, I do plan to share the audio book, on a one-on-one basis.  I think it will be helpful for the children to hear the story being read in English together with the sound effects and music. 

Q.   Was Borneo a new topic for your students? 
Yes, "Borneo" was a completely new topic for the students to study.  I had fun introducing Borneo's location (via world maps and photographs) as well as reviewing what type of animals and fruit can be found there.  The students especially enjoyed learning about the different animals.

Q.   Did you discuss the environmental issues  (example, deforestation) facing the people and animals of Borneo?

I did not do this as I wanted to focus on the English language but I will develop our discussions to cover these points later in the term.

Q.   What type of additional activities did you develop to expand the content?

I used the Radio Ron Classroom activity kit to kick-start classroom exercises.  I also developed further content including:-

More crossword puzzles and word search puzzles (there are some at the back of the book and in the classroom kit).
Comprehension tests.
Pictures of fruit and animals.
Geography comprehension using maps of the world

(Samples of some of the additional classroom exercises developed will be shared next week).

Q.  What type of exercises did your students enjoy?

My students loved the postcard competition challenge.  The chance to not only test their written English skills but also the opportunity to design a postcard was a terrific and unusual classroom exercise.    They were especially excited to learn that the author, Sandra Arthur, would be the judge for the competition. 

Each student worked on their own and used dictionaries to ensure that all words were spelt correctly.   

Q.  What other ideas have you planned?

As suggested in the classroom kit, I will challenge my students to write another Radio Ron adventure.  In other words, the mission will be for my students to develop a NEW story that can build upon the current Crocodile Attack adventure.  I will divide the class into four groups and they will each create their own mini story.  From the four stories created we will ask the author to once again offer her assistance to select the winning play.  We will then all work together to create and present a play at the end of term.

Indeed, Stephanie's student rose to the challenge and submitted four plays to the author, Sandra Arthur.  The story has now been professionally recorded and illustrated and is available as a FREE audio book and video story (via YouTUBE).  The play was also presented to other students and teachers at the year end.  All students have been thrilled to be involved in such a creative exercise and best of all, their English has improved!

Q.  What will be your year end production agenda feature?

We are planning to present our English "show" to students and teachers as follows:

1. Singing English songs studied during the class : The "Animal Fair" song.
2. Presentation of our special Radio Ron Adventure - with costumes.
3. Other students will summarise the importance of Saving our Rainforests.  They will provide their own words and concerns about the wildlife disappearing in Bornoe and the plight of orang utan.





RADIO RON'S POSTCARD COMPETITION


Meanwhile, to entice Stephanie's students to demonstrate their new found English skills, we set a fun competition for her class.  The mission was for each child to design and write a postcard based on their knowledge of Borneo.  The author of Radio Ron's Postcards from Borneo, Sandra Arthur, has received all the entries and the results are now available.    Speaking with the author today she commented, "All the entries were expertly crafted and it was a tough decision.  I loved all the designs and the varied content was most impressive.  I'd like to pass on my congratulations to all the students who entered this competition and also to their teacher, Stephanie Moreland, for her enthusiasm and support."

The standard of written English was indeed high and the postcard designs were varied and delightful. Clearly each student worked alone to create a unique and interesting postcard.   A great deal of creativity has been demonstrated by the students as we have received cards written to "The Queen of England", "007 James Bond", the "author" as well as to various family members.   It was a difficult task to select the top five winners and these are now shared below.




RESULTS

Radio Ron's Postcard Winners!  Here are the students at College des Collines receiving their winning certificates.

Congratulations to all those children who entered.  We loved reading your postcards and hope your work will motivate others to do the same.  We hope that the winner, Hugo, will enjoy reading our junior fiction novel: Cpl Ron's Borneo Warrior Rescue.




Photo: Diana, Imene, Hugo, Anais, Maelle.





FIRST PRIZE
: A signed copy of our Junior Fiction, Corporal Ron's Borneo Warrior Rescue: 

Based on the best combination of postcard message AND postcard design the author selected the cheekily written card "To the Queen of England." 

Hugo, no doubt enjoyed learning about the different insects and animals that live in Borneo, as his card boldly included some of these interesting species.

The prizes will be presented by the Headmaster of
College Notre Dame des Collines in Rive de Gier, France.  We look forward to sharing photos later!


WINNER: Hugo



RUNNER-UP PRIZES: Audio e-book Crocodile Attack.

BEST POSTCARD DESIGNS
1.   Anais                                                                              2.   Diana.




BEST POSTCARD MESSAGES

1.   Imene                                                                              2.   Maelle



Congratulations to all the students who entered the competition - you are all winners as everyone will receive a special certificate.



Thank you and to your wonderful teacher, Stephanie Moreland for leading this interesting initiative.  The students have now written FOUR plays and the winning choice is shared below.  You can also read more about the work created by linking to this page:

Winning Student Play











 Stephanie Moreland
  found Radio Ron's Postcards from Borneo a useful book to stimulate and help her improve all her
student's English.








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