We can’t walk into a classroom at the beginning of the year and say, “This year I expect you all to be fair, kind, honest, careful, friendly, helpful and on time.” It won’t happen. But we can set specific, small goals and ask students to try to stick to them.
So, first of all, let's give these questions a thought and select what values we want our students to work on this year or term:
What is one value that is important to you that you worry is lost to the current generation of children?
What 5 values would you say are the top moral values that you would like your students to understand and adopt?
In order to implement values education in the EFL classroom , we should centre around creating an active learning environment. Active learning involves building an open classroom climate characterised by intensive student participation and interaction, respect for students and teacher, open discussion, and positive reinforcement.
The first method of presenting values education in the classroom is the cooperative learning model of classroom interaction. Cooperative learning embodies many of the values and concepts inherent in moral education: interdependence, tolerance, respect for others, cooperation, development of social skills, and individual accountability.
Another major method of approaching moral education discussions is dialogue; an interactive approach that allows learners to decide for themselves after debating an issue. Students should learn the value of conducting dialogues on issues: they learn the value and rightness of consensus and when they disagree, they learn about the alternatives and withhold judgment.
The fourth method recommended for implementing moral education in the ESL/EFL classroom is that of modelling. Teaching by modelling could take one of two forms. In the first form, the teacher sets himself as an example. Another way comes through the presentation of characters from history or literature who could serve as models.
This is particularly relevant to language classrooms where the language experience approach is one of the most popular methods of teaching, especially in beginning classes.
By breaking values into small, meaningful chunks, stating our expectations, following up during the week and rewarding students for good behavior, teaching values becomes not only manageable, but incredibly helpful to your image as a teacher. Imagine being a mother whose child suddenly starts saying ‘please’ or sharing with his little sister? When that mother finds out it’s because his English teacher suggested it, you’re a star!
Telling and Reading Stories: Folktales, fairy tales, and stories where animals are the main characters. This may be followed by role playing and dramatizing. Most children like dressing up and acting out the roles of different characters.
One of the best sources of stories about moral values can be found in Aesop's Fables. They are simple in expression, and they convey the truth of human life. Four fables which immediately come to mind are: Androcles and the Lion and Never Cry Wolf. In the fable Androcles and the Lion, students will learn that gratitude and compassion are the signs of a noble soul. Never Cry Wolf teaches children that it is bad to tell a lie.
The Little Red Hen
In all versions, the little red hen is a hard working character. Most of the versions have a lazy cat, but depending on the storyteller or writer the other characters may be a mouse, a dog, a goose, a duck, a cow or a horse. Sometimes these characters are dozing off, sleeping or just playing. Sometimes the hen bakes bread, or a cake, and yes in one version the hen bakes a pizza! The animals don't want to help and the hen does not share what she has baked, well, with one exception. The hen does share the pizza in a contemporary version you may want to explore.
What values would you teach through The Little Red Hen?
Thrift – The story begins with the Little Red Hen finding some discarded grain seeds. Nobody else saw the value of these seeds, but she knew they had potential. The thrifty hen knows better than to let her fortunate find go to waste.
Initiative – Nobody had to tell the hen what to do with the grain seeds. She took the initiative to pick up the seeds and take advantage of her good fortune. People can learn a lesson from her initiative instead of waiting to be told what to do.
Plan ahead – The Little Red Hen could see the future potential of those seeds if they were planted and harvested. Instead of just focusing on the present, she could plan ahead to improve her situation.
Work hard – The hen wasn’t afraid of hard work even if nobody else on the farm would help her. She knew that her labor would pay off in the end and didn’t hesitate to get busy. Kids can learn how important it is to work hard if they want to succeed.
Self reliance – The Little Red Hen didn’t count on anyone else to help her out even though she asked. When the other farm animals refused to help she just went ahead and did all the work on her own. This story has the practical lesson of self reliance that is important for young people to learn.
Persistence – At every stage of the project, the Little Red Hen didn’t give up. Even though she didn’t have any help and the work was hard, her persistence and perseverance paid off in the end.
Ignore naysayers – The other farm animals surely told the hen she was crazy to do all that hard work while they were lazing about and having fun. It’s important for kids to learn to ignore the naysayers while doing the right thing.
Rewards – Of course the most practical lesson is that the initiative and hard work paid great rewards in the end. The Little Red Hen had some delicious bread to eat and share with her family while the other animals had nothing.
Fairness – And finally, the animals who didn’t share in the work didn’t earn any of the bread. This is probably the most important lesson of all in today’s society. With all the talk of fairness, the other farm animals really did get their “fair share”. The Little Red Hen had every right to keep the fruits of her labor and not share it with anyone who didn’t help.
Secure a book and/or video from the library that best meets the needs of the children's age and tastes. A book with rich illustrations is highly recommended for this activity, followed by the use of flannel board characters and other support materials.
Reading and discussing this story will greatly vary depending on the age of the children.
For young learners, it is probably best to keep the discussion simple, focus on:
1. The repetition of the story and having them participate in role playing with (an easy craft below) puppets and/or felt board characters.
2. Some basic discussion about sharing and helping. Relate this to how much sharing and helping they do at home.
3. Think about the story
Who are the characters in this story?
Which characters are not very helpful?
Does the story have a happy ending or a sad ending?
Why do you think this?
*Arts & Crafts: Various suggestions for crafts to make to support the story that allow the children to be creative in making one of the characters of the story and engage in dramatic play.
*Farm Theme: This story can definitely be incorporated in a farm themed unit, and the importance and contributions of the hen/chicken and other characters to the farm.
*Science/Plants: The process of wheat planting, caring, harvesting, milling process, baking and nutritional value of the final baked good.
*Nutrition: The nutritional value of products derived from the wheat, food pyramid - breads and grains.
More to come in the next few days!